Consultation on the draft Childminding Regulations submission

Consultation on the draft Childminding Regulations submission
Adult-child ratios for Childminding

The introduction of an adult-child-ratio of one adult to four children (including up to two children under the age of two) has been recommended by Early Childhood Ireland in our recent submission to the public consultation on the Draft Childminding Regulations.

It is one of several Early Childhood Ireland recommendations which will give this vital part of Early Years and School Age Care the recognition that it deserves.

Childminding in Ireland

With approximately 52,000 [1] children in Ireland being looked after by an estimated 13,000 [2] childminders, Childminding plays a significant role in the provision of Early Years and School Age Care. The draft regulations are an important first step in ensuring proper safeguarding for all children.

Childminders provide paid, non-relative, home-based care for children in their own home. It is often a nurturing environment for children, a home-from-home, where the child is treated as one of the family. For many parents, particularly those who live in rural areas or who work irregular hours, Childminding is an accessible and crucial service which enables them to work.

The need for Childminding regulations

As both child participation rates and investment in Early Years and School Age Care increase, so must government attention to the quality of Early Years and School Age Care provision, underpinned by safeguarding.

At the moment, Childminding is almost entirely unregulated in Ireland. Many childminders are exempt from regulations due to a clause in the Child Care Act 1991.

With fewer than 1 per cent [3] (< 100) of childminders registered with the Child and Family Agency, Tusla, there is a clear need for the introduction of Childminding regulations to ensure appropriate child safeguarding, to introduce adequate standards of safety and numbers of children, and to provide reassurance to families who use registered childminders.

Some key Early Childhood Ireland recommendations to the draft Childminding regulations
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1.     Adult-child ratios

Early Childhood Ireland believes that a ratio of one adult to six children as outlined in the draft regulations is too high. We recommend that a maximum number of four, including up to two children under the age of two years, as outlined in the draft regulations is an appropriate adult-to-child ratio. We agree that Tusla can lower this number if the space available in the childminder’s home is deemed inadequate.

2.     Funding

While we welcome the draft Childminding regulations, there is a sense of urgency surrounding the registration process for childminders. The Government has committed to extending the National Childcare Scheme to registered childminders by September 2024.  Therefore, Early Childhood Ireland recommends that funding to be frontloaded for the first three years following the enactment of the regulations to ensure that Tusla has the resources to register childminders, and to enable childminders to avail of any assistance offered by relevant agencies or bodies.

3.     Child Safeguarding concerns

Early Childhood Ireland agrees with the condition that all persons over the age of 16 living in the childminders’ home, and their designated emergency cover, must be Garda vetted. We remain concerned, however, about the continuing disparity between the revised Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) Regulations 2016 and Children First Act, 2015, as these are not aligned. This impacts on safeguarding within all existing registered Early Years and Schools Age Care settings and will now be the case for registered childminders. In a 2018 submission, Early Childhood Ireland provided draft amendments to address this lacuna.

4.     Assessment of Suitability

The introduction of an assessment of suitability or “fit person” regulations is very welcome. Early Childhood Ireland recommends that this regulation should be similar to the HIQA regulations where fitness is not a once off assessment, but is considered on an ongoing basis.

You can read our full submission and all recommendations here on our website.

Contact us

If you have any questions or queries about our work, please contact [email protected]

[1] CSO 2022 Census figures
[2] National Action Plan for Childminding – Steering Group – Meeting 10 (Q2 2023) – Minutes
[3] 74 Childminders are registered with Tusla

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