What’s happening in the Childminding Sector?
Childminding Development Grants (CMDG)
Following a strong and persistent lobbying campaign from Childminding Ireland over the last year, access to the CMDG was restored in those counties where it had been previously unavailable. This is great news for Childminders in these areas and means access to funding to buy equipment for their Childminding service.
In order to address the fact that most Childminders are working unsupported, without access to subsidies and outside a regulated system, Dr. Katherine Zappone Minister for Children and Youth Affairs established the Childminding Working Group for Reforms and Supports for the Childminding sector (Working Group). This Working Group is expected to make its recommendations in the coming weeks to the Minister. We will keep you updated of any developments.
Affordable Childcare Scheme
The Universal subsidy that is being introduced in September is not the Affordable Childcare Scheme. It is an expansion of the existing schemes which includes a provision for a universal element for pre-ECCE children. All parents of children from 6 months up to ECCE eligibility, using a Tusla Registered childminder will be able to access this through the CCSP programme. Over the summer a Government communications campaign directed at parents began. The adverts may give the impression that all parents will be eligible for the universal subsidy in September 2017. Currently, only parents using Tusla registered childminders will be eligible to apply for the current round of subsidies. The vast majority of childminders are excluded from registering with Tusla as registration is restricted to those childminders that mind 4 or more pre-school children. There are an estimated 19,000 childminders working in Ireland of which only 120 are registered with Tusla. Further information in relation to the Affordable Childcare Scheme is also available on http://affordablechildcare.ie/
National Collaborative Forum for the Early Years Care and Education Sector (Early Years Forum)
Childminding Ireland’s CE Bernadette Orbinski Burke attends the Early Years Forum on behalf of Childminders. The purpose of the Early Years Forum is ‘to enable consultation and engagement between the Minister, key Department of Children and Youth Affairs officials, and key representatives of children and the sector’.
Bernadette uses this forum to raise the very real concerns of childminders directly to the Minister. This includes the potential impact of the ACS on Childminders, and the fact that members have already reported parents leaving services and giving access to ACS as the reason for the move. The Minister and the DCYA noted the concerns raised by Childminding Ireland and commented that the introduction in September is a first step and it is hoped to build on the progress made into the future.
Professionalisation of the Early Years Sector Sub-Group
Childminding Ireland is a member of this sub-group. A code of Ethics for the sector has been drawn up and will be discussed in detail at the next meeting. The Code of Ethics is currently being reviewed by the Board of Childminding Ireland, and will then be shared with Childminding Ireland members for input. A proposal to research Early Years Care and Education in other countries was submitted to the DCYA for consideration. Pay scales for the wider sector are being investigated and how pay might be financed.