Interviews

Childcare needs to man up

Childcare needs to man up

Joss Cambridge-Simmons, the self-styled super-manny who runs agency Jossy Care, tells Early Years Childcarer that the early-years sector needs to rethink its approach to the men in its midst – and those it is scaring away.

Joss, who hails from Hackney, in east London, had overcome significant obstacles in his personal life before trying to forge a career in childcare, aged 19. He gave up a job in Harrods to pursue what he felt was his vocation in life, but despite successfully holding down a wide and varied selection of jobs over the last 12 years, he feels the prevailing attitude in nanny agencies, in particular, are holding men back from becoming more prominent in childcare settings.

“For me, the stereotypes stem from agencies not being prepared to support men wanting to be nannies in the way they could,” he says. “Out of around 100 agencies I know, there are only four that properly support men and they can only do so much.

“I don’t know whether you’d call them “gatekeepers”, but some of the biggest nanny agencies I’ve come across have not been the most friendly or forthcoming. I’ve even offered them help with their images and marketing themselves to men, but it requires a change in culture and for agencies to be prepared to have the conversations with parents that I’m having.”

The media doesn’t help, he adds. “TV and newspapers have a big influence and they paint a picture that men who want to work in nurseries are ogres and it shouldn’t be allowed.”

Parents, says Joss, are actually more open to male childcare professionals than many people assume. “Most parents I’ve come across and talked to would be fine with it, as many of them will be aware of a man working in their child’s nursery and know that the children tend to adore them because they are a novelty. That shows that if it was the norm, it wouldn’t be an issue,” he explains.

“When I do the school run, parents tend to assume that I’m the dad and they are shocked to find out I’m the nanny. Even then, they often assume that I’m just doing school runs and if I tell them that I also look after babies, they are gobsmacked. It’s widely assumed that men are only capable of caring for older children.

“I’ve found that in nurseries too. They are generally all for men working in nurseries, but mostly they are reluctant to put men with younger children. Until they’ve seen your skillsets they generally assume that you would only be good with older children.”

Joss believes his own experience shows that the “proof is in the pudding”. He says: “My first ever role as a 19-year old was in the baby room of a nursery and in the last 12 years I’ve worked with children very successfully from birth up until young teens. I’m great with babies and I’ve been a birthing partner a few times, as well as looking after many babies of four or five months.”

Joss has marketed himself through Jossy Care since 2007, largely because he was finding it tough at that time to secure regular work through nanny agencies. He has become self-employed in the last 12 months, so that he can spread the word and take his service to the next level. “They wouldn’t let me through the door, so I made my own door,” he says. “And that door isn’t just for me – I want everyone else to come through it with me. Lots of men have reached out to me, from the UK and overseas, and I’m reaching out to other men and letting them know that they can be a better version of me and make a real difference.

“I want to employ people, but I’m looking for people – male or female – who are better than me. At the moment I think I need someone to manage the business, because I want to be out there at the forefront talking about the need for more men in childcare.”

He believes change is in the air and points to things like Meghan Markle and Prince Harry saying they want to employ a male nanny as potential catalysts. “Programmes like Turn Up Charlie, which sees Idris Elba playing a struggling DJ, turned nanny, will also help change perceptions,” he adds. “I’m a DJ too, so it could have been written about me, but it’s going to put the issue in people’s faces and force them to think about it.”

Joss has looked after children from Arabic and Muslim families, where males historically have played a very limited role in childcare and says that his involvement has a very positive impact on those children and their parents. “I didn’t plan it like that, but by becoming a meaningful man in their children’s lives, I have broken down some of their stereotypes.”

He adds: “I’m sure change is coming and one thing with change is that you can’t stop it. There has to be a cultural shift, where parents tell their children that they can be a nanny, male or female, and are more accepting of men looking after their children.”

The childcare has to follow suit and promote the role males can play in its future, he adds. “A long-term marketing plan is needed for the childcare sector, if it wants to bring more males in,” says Joss. “In the same way that the government invests in and advertises the 30 Free Hours, they could push more adverts out there to encourage men into childcare.

“There could also be more done to improve salaries because people are prepared to work hard, but they still need to [earn enough money to] survive. Only some roles pay enough, but there should be a set standard that protects everyone working in the sector.

“I can create change, but it’s not really about me – I’m just starting the ripple in the pool and someone else is going to come along and make a big splash!”

Past Issues

Childcare needs to man up

Joss Cambridge-Simmons, the self-styled super-manny who runs agency Jossy Care, tells Early Years Childcarer that the early-years sector needs to rethink its...
read more

Creating a buzz around apprenticeships

An innovative approach to attracting apprentices has paid dividends for Busy Bees, as it welcomes more than 350 new recruits into its sector-leading...
read more

Childminder Chat

As pre-school age children approach the point at which they pass another milestone and start attending primary school, the contentious concept of homework...
read more

Celebrating a decade of Childcare Expo

This year marks the 10th anniversary of events for Childcare Expo, making the exhibition the longest-running of its kind in the UK.
read more

Tigers makes first London foray

There’s a ‘new’ kid on London’s childcare block. Irish provider, Tigers Childcare, will open its inaugural centre in the UK in the...
read more

Reporting Abuse in the Early Years Setting

Would you know the correct steps to take if you suspected, or knew for certain, that a child was being abused or neglected?
read more

Is childcare too expensive?

When it comes to the cost of childcare in the UK the only thing that every vested party - from parents and providers to social care experts and politicians -...
read more

Keep Kalm and carry on

Kinder Kalm’s Anna Gagg explains her committed approach to sensory play and the EYFS.
read more

Manchester Expo gets a Café Culture

One of the highlights of this summer’s Childcare Expo in Manchester was the launch of the Morton Michel Business Café. Situated squarely in the...
read more

The Hub To Get You Active

We talk to Tessa Robinson, founder of Club Hub, about the mobile app that connects activity-seekers with activity-providers
read more

NEyTCO Makes Smacking Stand

We speak to NEyTCO’s Juliette Davis, to find out more about the organisation’s new anti-smacking campaign campaign.
read more

Children’s Activity Week

Children’s Activities Week is a celebration of the hundreds of thousands of activities, clubs and classes benefiting millions of parents and children...
read more

Be part of the butterfly effect

Early Years Childcarer publisher Morton Michel has chosen national charity Caudwell Children as its 2018 charity partner. Here, we give you some more...
read more

Claire addresses support shortage

Claire Parker has been running a successful Out of School setting for over a decade, during which time she and fellow practitioners watched the level of...
read more

At one with the magic of nature

Mike Jones, co-founder of Earth Wrights, tells us why he got involved in the design and build of natural play spaces and what they offer children
read more

Barrett lights up Broadway

If you have ever been to Childcare Expo in Coventry, London or Manchester over the past seven years, chances are you have met one of the team from show...
read more

Are your children lucky?

The Minding The Gap conference held in Brighton recently appropriately had a keynote presentation that tackled the issue of closing the gap between...
read more

Focus on the recovery, not the grief

Catherine Best, a certified grief recovery specialist in the North West, says the emphasis should always be on the recovery, not the grief
read more

Developing the chatter

Chris Williams, founder of “chatta” and language development expert, explores ideas and activities parents and childminders can use to support...
read more

Self-regulation: Life readiness, not school readiness

In the second of her four articles on neuroscience for Early Years Childcarer, Mine Conkbayir looks at self-regulating emotions
read more

OOSA fights its members’ corner

Following on from our interview with Tanya Petherick of Class of Their Own, in this issue’s interview we spoke to Catherine Wrench and Clare Freeman of...
read more

Your responses give Foundation food for thought

Anna Taylor, chief executive of The Food Foundation, responds to the findings of the survey carried out jointly with Morton Michel and Early Years Childcarer...
read more

Talking Out of School

Out of School clubs (OOS) play an integral role in the childcare and educational system. Not only do they give working parents options in assisting them with...
read more

Let’s hear it for the men

Men in childcare. Now there’s a subject that never fails to disappoint. Despite men making up half the population of the UK (the last time we looked...
read more

Margo stresses importance of managers

Since Julia Margo took up her role as CEO of the Family & Childcare Trust six months ago, the childcare sector has been under the spotlight. A former...
read more