Historically playgroups in the East have been allowed by the regulator (Care Commission, SCSWIS, Care Inspectorate) to count rota parents as part of the ratios, while in the West this has not been the practice applied. For all playgroups, as with all other day care of children services, the regulator has ensured that there is a qualified manager in day to day charge.

Playgroup managers are almost always paid and are not parents of children attending. This only applies to parents who take part in a rota, which means that they volunteer less than once per month. For parents who regularly assist (more than monthly), regulatory practice in East and West has been consistent in ensuring that they are fit person checked and included in the staffing ratios. 

There is a risk to children from rota parents who have not been fit person checked. This risk is mitigated if they are supervised by a member of staff who is qualified/trained as well as checked. However, most playgroups are small and it is unrealistic for rota parents to be supervised at all times. The higher the proportion of adults who have been fit person checked, the lower the risk of other adults placing children at risk either deliberately or through a lack of knowledge of safe practice. Excluding rota parents from the ratios effectively ensures that there are at least 2 adults who are qualified/trained, professionally registered, have been fit person checked and can supervise rota parents.

A recent survey by Early Years Scotland (formerly SPPA) has confirmed that a significant number of existing playgroups (28%) operate with rota parents as part of the ratio. Early Years Scotland agrees with the reasons for rota parents not being included and that this should now be applied consistently to all new playgroups but not retrospectively.

Having allowed playgroups to operate with parents included in the ratios and taking into account the impact on existing playgroups, it would be unreasonable to exclude rota parents from the ratios retrospectively. However, the risk to children attending some playgroups, where there may be only one qualified/trained and checked adult supervising one or more unchecked rota parents, is a real concern. It is therefore recommended that excluding rota parents from the ratios is not applied retrospectively to existing playgroups operating in the East unless there are concerns about the quality of care for children. It is recommended that any new playgroups are expected to operate with rota parents excluded from the adult:child ratio. The Care Inspectorate will also work with Early Years Scotland to highlight and mitigate the risks to those existing playgroups continuing to include rota parents in the ratios.”