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Childminding Working Group Report

April 3, 2018

Childminding Working Group Report –  Pathway to a quality support and assurance system for childminding – is published.

Olivia Smith, a 3rd year early years student at DCU, who is on placement with Early Childhood Ireland, had a look at the report.

The use of paid non-parental childcare, both centre-based and home-based, continues to grow in Ireland, increasing from 30% of children aged 0 to 12 years in 2007, to 38% in 2016. Recent CSO survey data indicates that 13% of families use a form of paid home-based childcare for their childcare, either relative or non-relative, in the parent’s home or in the childminder’s home. For this reason, the Reforms and Supports for the Childminding Sector report was developed by the Working Group which was set up by Dr Katherine Zappone TD, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. The group was asked to consider issues related to childminding and make proposals for reforms and supports for the childminding sector in Ireland. Below is a summary of the various proposals presented in this report.

 

Legislation

  • Looking to amend the Child Care Act of 1991, to allow for a more comprehensive definition of childminding services in the Early Years regulations (2016).
  • Extend the existing definition of early years services in the Child and Family Agency Act 2013 to include school aged childcare up to age 15. Raising the age limit to align with the upper child age threshold to avail of the Affordable Childcare Scheme.
  • Review the various definitions of childminding services and eligibility criteria underpinning national policy and programmes. This is to ensure consistency and their support for national policy goals for children and families.
  • The working group want to review how best to support in-home childcare by au pairs and nannies to ensure children’s protection, health and development, and possible parental access to subsidies.

 

Registration, regulation and inspection

  • The working group is looking to develop the required amendments to the 1991 Child Care Act. The DCYA is looking at the Child Care Act 1991 over the next three years with a view to reform. There is a case for amending the Act separately from this review and reform process to support childminders’ becoming regulated providers of childcare.
  • They want to establish an expert group on Registration, Regulation and Inspection that would develop minimum regulatory standards for childminding services for children from birth to 15 years.
  • This expert group could start by developing the minimum regulatory standards required for initial registration, covering elements such as- suitability of the childminder, up-to-date certification in First Aid for children, two written references and insurance for the childminding service.
  • Childminding Ireland is currently consulting on the process of the draft Quality and Regulatory Framework being developed by Tusla for childminding services under existing Early Years’ regulations (2016).
  • There will be a required certification in at least the QQI level 5 minor award in childminding, or other recognised qualifications for early years on the DCYA list.
  • Childminders will need to have a copy of the vetting disclosure received from the National Vetting Bureau of the Garda Síochána in accordance with the National Vetting Bureau Children & Vulnerable Persons Act, 2012.
  • The suitability of the home should be assessed and the childminder should be required to present: A copy of health and safety risk assessment and a copy of a Fire Safety Plan within the home.
  • The working group suggested the development of a Communications Strategy, to communicate the benefits of registration, to childminders and parents.

 

Quality Standards and supports

  • Establish an expert group on Quality Standards, that will mentor and network development to recommend appropriate quality standards for childminding in line with the Síolta Framework.
  • As part of the national childminding office, they will create a system of staffed childminding networks, facilitated by childcare professionals with experience in childminding.
  • Once regulatory and quality standards have been agreed, they will establish an expert group to develop education and professional training for childminders. This will involve redeveloping the QQI Level 5 minor award in Childminding, alongside basic training in paediatric first aid and Always Children First.
  • They will consider educational development for childminders in the longer term: continuous professional development, special purpose awards and major awards at different levels. They want to provide childminders with access to a learner fund or equivalent so they can achieve further childcare qualifications should they wish to.
  • Introduce a Grandfathering Declaration Clause for those close to retirement from childminding.

 

Funding and Financial supports

  • Establish a funding and financial support expert group to review the effectiveness and efficiency of the funding and financial supports to childminding services.
  • All registered and regulated childminding services should be eligible to apply to deliver the affordable childcare scheme and other government funded schemes.

 

Strategy and implementation

  • Establish a National Childminding Strategy informed by the proposals of this report to coordinate the regulatory and quality support aspects within one coherent framework. The National Childminding Strategy should also be included in the National Early Years Strategy.
  • Establish a range of expert groups to further develop the pathway to quality supports and assurance for childminding including: Minimum standards for registration, regulation and inspection. Quality standards such as mentoring and network development. Education and professional development and a communication strategy.
  • Establish an appropriately resourced National Childminding Office to ensure the delivery of the National Childminding Strategy. Suggested functions of the Office would be: Developing an implementation plan for the National Childminding Strategy in collaboration with other. They would manage the regional and local support staffed networks for childminding services. They would provide strategic operational direction and monitoring and adjusting the implementation of the National Childminding Strategy. The office would also oversee the implementation of a national childminding communications strategy.
  • Commission a specialist to produce a study on the proposed reforms for a childminding regulatory and support system.
  • Support the development of a model for estimating and planning for the supply and demand of childminding services within the context of the wider ECEC and school age childcare sectors.
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