Parents and carers across Lanarkshire who have experience of childcare are being encouraged to help Scotland’s social care regulator, the Care Inspectorate, improve services for children.
The Care Inspectorate inspects and regulates more than 14,000 care services including childminders, nurseries and other vital services across the country.
And it is looking for people across North and South Lanarkshire who have first-hand experience of using childcare to becoming an inspection volunteer.
That could be experience of using a childminder, playgroup, nursery, crèche or out of school care service.
Inspection volunteers are members of the public who use a care service, have used a care service in the past or care for someone like a family member or friend who has used a care service.
Volunteers help the Inspectorate get the views of people using care services, including parents and carers.
They work closely with the Care Inspectorate’s teams of specialist inspectors and together they help spot where things need to improve, help keep children safe, and ensure that the rights of children receiving childcare are respected and their needs met.
Minister for Children and Young People, Aileen Campbell, said:"Most people will use a care service at some point in their life and we all want to make sure that all such services are performing well.
“We want to give every child in Scotland the best possible start in life and as part of that we are expanding the provision of funded early learning and children and extending it to the most disadvantaged 2-year-olds.
"We have also invested in staff development to support all those working in the sector to excel.
"It is essential that we have a really rigorous inspection regime that identifies any potential issues early and can help drive up standards across the board.
"I am delighted that the Care Inspectorate is involving people who have personal experience of childcare in inspections, as they are best placed to really understand it.
"I strongly encourage more people to get involved, sign up and use their experience to help ensure that care for children and young people across Scotland continues to improve."
Inspection volunteers have a background that means they are well placed to communicate with people who have the same or similar experiences. They can also use their own experiences to add value to inspection.
They spend time with service users and carers during inspections and ensure the views of service users and carers are reflected accurately in inspections.
Annette Bruton, the Care Inspectorate’s Chief Executive said: “We inspect care and social work services to make sure they are of a high quality and meet the needs of the people who use them.
“We believe we can make care better by working with people who have personal experience of those services.
“Our inspectors are experts by professional training and qualification, but we want experts by experience too.
“We’re looking for people with a personal experience of childcare across North and South Lanarkshire.
"You don’t have to have qualifications – your personal experience gives you a unique insight into care.”
Mum-of-two Lorraine Elliott, from Motherwell signed up to become an inspection volunteer.
Lorraine, 39, said: “My children were in nursery so when I found out about the Care Inspectorate's focus on early years inspection I thought, that’s right up my street.
“I think it’s really good that the Care Inspectorate is there, to know that they’re looking into things, looking out for the quality of care that’s being provided to children.
“It’s good to know it’s not just the job of nurseries, we’ve all got a role to play.
"I’ve had good training to be a volunteer inspector and it was really interesting. I’d say from a personal development point of view it’s really useful and beneficial.
"On an inspection you get to speak to such a range of really lovely people.
“It’s great to feel I’m there to help make sure that services deserve the good grades they get, or that where there’s an issue that it can be rectified.
“I really feel that the inspectors I work with listen to me and that it makes a difference.”