Can we entrust young children to unqualified staff in order to guarantee them a place in a crèche? This question has been agitating the early childhood sector since the announcements of the brand new Minister of Solidarity, Jean-Christophe Combe, on July 10, before the sector committee responsible for thinking about the training of professionals.
Faced with a sector traumatized by the recent death of an 11-month-old baby poisoned by an employee in a micro-crèche, the minister raised a thorny subject: the use of unqualified personnel. He mentioned a draft decree being written supposed to regulate this recruitment, but seen by some as an attempt at deregulation. “This trial is unfair because it is, on the contrary, a securing of already existing practices”, defends those around him.
A ratio of graduates and exemptions
What is it about ? For years, the early childhood sector has been facing a shortage of staff. Not enough childminders, the “nannies” who look after the children at home, not enough crèche places either, partly due to a lack of staff. Faced with this observation, the parade, found by Nadine Morano in her time, consists of juggling qualified staff (childcare auxiliaries, educators of young children, etc.) and certified staff, holders of early childhood CAPs. The ratio is now 60-40%.
But recruitment difficulties remain. Also, according to the ministry, over time, the maternal and child protection services (PMI), which oversee the crèches, have multiplied the derogations to allow them to recruit people without a CAP in early childhood. The controversial draft decree is supposed, according to the government, to put things in order.
Concretely, the non-definitive version of the text states that, “in a context of proven local shortage”, people without qualifications can be recruited and then trained in the crèches. “Only one person may be recruited in this way in establishments which take in fewer than 60 children, two in large crèches, specifies the entourage of the minister. In addition, these people can never be alone with a child during the first 120 hours of their training. »
A simple stopgap
What to reassure the sector? Not frankly. Élisabeth Laithier, president of the sector committee, recognizes it: it is a last resort. “The shortage is such that we had three solutions: either we stayed like that, and we restricted the hours of the crèches; either we multiplied the derogations with the risks of slippage that this entailed; or we opened the possibility for personnel to qualify, by supervising their arrival and granting them 160 hours of training. This is what we have chosen to do. »
Many professionals go further and denounce a leveling down of skills. This is the point of view relayed, for example, by the National Federation of Early Childhood Educators (Fnepe): “We are not opposed in principle to different profiles being recruited, but still it is necessary to finance them a real training and not to entrust it to already overloaded teams”, says Julie Marty-Pichon, spokesperson.
The specter of the controversy aroused by Marlène Schiappa in 2018 resurfaces. That year, the Secretary of State for equality between women and men at the time had proposed that mothers could validate their acquired experience to work in a crèche, causing an outcry. “In the same way, once again, we forget that it’s a real job”, continues Julie Marty-Pichon.
Lack of space in initial training
Same reluctance to the National Union of Family Associations (Unaf). According to her, the draft text tackles the problem from the wrong end. “The shortage of professionals is due to the lack of places in initial training, argues Patricia Humann, coordinator of the education and early childhood division. For years, the regions, which are competent in this area, have underestimated the needs. Thus, the national education estimates that there are 9,000 candidates each year to enter early childhood CAP for 1,000 places. Same thing for childcare assistants or educators of young children. This is what needs to be tackled first. »