Thousands of childminders have quit the profession in the last five years, according to official figures.
There are now just over 55,200 childminders operating in England, down from more than 60,000 in 2008, data published by Ofsted shows.
One childcare expert suggested the fall could be partly down to the economic climate and concerns about how childminding will be regulated in the future. The latest figures show there were 55,281 childminders registered with Ofsted as of the end of September, compared to 55,957 at the end of June – a drop of 1.2 per cent.
At the end of December 2008, the last quarter for which figures were available, there were 60,734 childminders registered.