DBS check problems for early years providers by Sarah Neville

4th October 2016

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DBS check childmindersApplying for a DBS check should be an exciting time for childminders and other early years providers. For nursery and pre-school workers it often means they have been accepted for a new job and for childminders it usually means the months of pre-registration training are completed and they are one step closer to Ofsted registration.

However, the process can be fraught with problems, often caused by delays to the DBS process as reported in this Guardian article or lack of suitable evidence in the case of teenage children in childminder’s households.

It is good to know from Ofsted that childminders who currently have police checks, CRB checks and the old-style DBS checks do not currently need to have them renewed. However, if something changes and you are asked to renew yours… read on!

I raised a concern about a delay with Ofsted recently on behalf of a childminder colleague whose husband has been waiting for his DBS since January (it is the end of September as I write this blog). My colleague has had to turn work away and is losing heart as the months march on and her husband’s DBS does not appear. Applicants are only entitled to lodge a complaint if they have waited more than 60 days from the start of the process but chasing the DBS with Ofsted (who are sympathetic but say there is little they can do) or DBS themselves seems to have little impact if the check is at stage 4 and sitting on a police officer’s desk waiting to be processed.

The problems do not end when the DBS has arrived – recipients of the new certificates only have 19 days from printing to register with the update service. If you factor in postal delays, holidays and busy working weeks, the 19 day deadline can easily be missed and childminder applicants have to start the whole process again because the DBS will not link to the online EY2 form if it is not registered with the update service.

Once the DBS check is registered with the DBS update service, applicants must remember that registration only lasts for 1 year and then it must be renewed… and this is where many more problems arise. More and more childminders are reporting problems with the update service, often to the extent that they have to contact Ofsted to inform them that they need to re-start the DBS process, paying the fee (often for more than one DBS if a few family certificates have lapsed) and re-registering with the update service.

In an ideal world, we would register our DBS with the update service and go straight to our next year’s diary to make a note a week before the renewal date… but life is not perfect and it is all too easy to make mistakes when lives are busy and long working days get in the way.

One of the biggest issues seems to be the way DBS checks are renewed. The DBS service requires us to input debit card details but of course cards are regularly replaced which means payments fail to go through. Add to this the issue of email reminders going to ‘junk’, childminders being on holiday or maternity leave, family life getting in the way or, in the case of teenagers, emails being ignored as they do not recognise their importance or going to old email addresses.

Clearly, the entire DBS system is fraught with difficulties and applicants need to be alert to issues which might lead to them having to pay for multiple DBS checks – hearing colleagues say it is the last straw and they are leaving childminding after being forced to apply two or even three times for repeat DBS checks is disheartening in a time when childminder retention is at an all-time low.

There must be a better way of managing the system!

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