asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she is satisfied with the current level of supervision of, and support for, childminders by local authorities; and if her Department will offer advice to those engaged in this activity and to the local authorities concerned.
I accept that there is much more that could be done in this field and I hope that many other authorities will follow those which already assist child minders through training, advice and the supply of equipment. I attach the greatest importance to the development and expansion of child minding as a valuable form of day care and to providing minders with the support and recognition which will encourage those who are unregistered to register and seek help in raising their standards. My Department will help to the fullest extent that the limitation on resources permits, and we have recently made grants under the urban aid programme to initiate seven new child minder support schemes. The day fostering experiment which a number of local authorities are undertaking at my Department's request should, when evaluated, throw further light on the contribution which we can best make to this importantly developing activity.