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Focus North News Update

Focus North continues to work with partnering organisations on focusing our strategic priorities, in supporting our cultural and organisational changes, while we incorporate remote and flexible working.

As we look towards future opportunities, here is an update relating to Focus North activities and other items relevant to the area.


The SCMA is running a major campaign to recruit new registered childminders in targeted urban and rural areas across Scotland to help establish childminding places for families.

There are 12 funded places prioritised for Caithness, Sutherland and Skye.

The SCMA will be in attendance at the Caithness Jobs Fair, ETEC Building, Thurso on the 11th March 2023.

The Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA) is embarking on the second phase of a major campaign to recruit new registered childminders in targeted urban and rural areas to help establish childminding places for families, including 20 in specific Highlands & Islands communities.  This latest phase will aim to recruit and train a further 115 new childminders overall in specific communities where they are most needed. The project provides a fantastic package of fully funded support and training available to successful applicants, providing everything needed to establish a new childminding business.

This second phase will help to further test the application of SCMA’s supported childminder recruitment model in larger and more densely populated urban areas and is a continuation of recruitment already started in Highlands & Islands and Dumfries & Galloway, where demand for childminders is critical.

The rural pilot project in 2022 saw almost 60 new childminders complete registration (or apply for registration) to the Care Inspectorate with the intent of establishing childminding businesses in remote and rural areas of Scotland, with more childminder registrations expected to follow in the coming months.

Led by SCMA, with funding from Scottish Government, participating local authorities and Highlands & Islands Enterprise the ‘Scottish Childminding Partnership’ now seeks to further increase the number of childminding businesses, targeting additional areas of Scotland where there are currently not enough childminders to meet the level of demand from working families seeking local, high-quality, nurturing and flexible childcare.

Throughout the Highlands and Islands, this second phase of the campaign aims to recruit 20 further childminding businesses in the specific areas of Thurso, Tongue, Bettyhill, Durness, Portskerra, Kinlochbervie, Skye and Portree (priority); Islands of Arran, Coll, Tiree, Cumbrae, Bute, as well as South Uist, Kintyre Peninsula, Rosneath Peninsula, Foyers and Stratherrick.

The target urban areas are in specific communities within Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and East Renfrewshire.

No previous childcare experience is required to become a childminder but applicants do need to be passionate about working with children.  It’s an extremely rewarding career option – contributing to children’s development, learning and wellbeing and providing a valuable childcare service within the local community.  Childminders are self-employed business owners who come from all walks of life and diverse backgrounds. Often, people who are looking to get back into work, or who want to switch career into professional childminding, do so to enable them to combine caring for their own children whilst running their own business from home and earning an income.

Those who apply and are accepted on to the pilot will be supported every step of the way by a dedicated member of the SCMA team, from induction training and support through the registration process to establishing their new business. On completion of registration with the Care Inspectorate and HMRC, new childminders have access to a start-up grant so that they can be reimbursed for some of the initial costs associated with setting up their new business from home*.  They will also receive a unique package of childminding-specific training courses.

Graeme McAlister, Chief Executive, Scottish Childminding Association, said: “This campaign builds on the success of our 2022 pilot where we successfully recruited new childminders in remote and rural communities. Whether in rural areas, towns or cities, this form of high-quality childcare is a vital asset to families and the recruitment of more childminders is another important step towards addressing the urgent demand for high-quality childcare from parents and carers.  This is a fantastic opportunity for those living in these target areas, who may be considering getting back into work, or looking for a change of career which supports a better work / life balance, to access a wealth of support in setting up their own sustainable childminding business and to begin a new, rewarding career working with children.”

“The childminding workforce has been declining and there is an acute need, and unmet demand, for childminding in many parts of Scotland. Our rural pilot has tested a supported model for recruiting new childminders which has been delivering strong results. By further testing its application in urban areas and applying learning from our rural pilot, we very much believe the next stage will be scaling-up this campaign nationally”.

A survey by SCMA in 2020 reported positive experiences of those who had decided to change their career to childminding – with 88% saying they would recommend it to others. 93% who had their own children before becoming a childminder particularly valued using their own knowledge and experience to help other families.

Linsey Paul established her childminding business in Ardersier in Highland last year after seeing SCMA’s recruitment advert online: “My friends and family always encouraged me to think about working with children.  They kept saying I’d be really good at it and it was always something I thought I might try but I had no idea how to get started. My previous roles had included being a hairdresser and working in an opticians – I had no experience of the childcare sector whatsoever.  I saw the advert and it was like a lightbulb moment – I was so excited because something just clicked, and I knew this was right for me.

“I can’t believe how much has changed in the relatively short space of time since I first saw that advert – in just six months I have a completely new career, I’m self-employed and running my own business. Working with children is something I knew I’d love and I’m delighted that I found my route into this!”

Douglas Cowan, Director of Communities and Place, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: “Rural communities across Scotland will only prosper if we are able to attract and retain young people who are economically active. This new initiative will support and extend the provision of a vital service for young families in the target areas, enabling more parents to return to the workforce. It will also provide much-needed opportunities for self-employment and business growth. This is a very welcome win-win that will deliver real benefits to many communities in our region.”

More information on the target areas, including eligibility and criteria is available