Childminding Working Group – Update

 

Current Situation

Minister Zappone and her officials have not yet made any decisions on the future supports and reforms for the childminding sector.

The officials at the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) are currently reviewing the Working Group Proposals. The DCYA are intending to have a high-level action plan for the childminding sector by December 2018. The action plan will give a broad outline of the intended supports and reforms intended for the childminding sector. The action plan is expected to provide a timescale for supports and reforms.

Childminding Ireland is lobbying hard to influence the process and to this end is holding Childminding Consultation Workshops (Workshops) around the country. To date Workshops were held in Donegal, Sligo, Mayo, Wicklow and Dublin. Before the summer break two more Workshops (Westmeath & Galway) have been organised. In September Childminding Ireland will be organising a second phase of Workshops.

The information gathered from childminders (members and non-members) and parents is being collated, and will be fed directly back to DCYA to ensure that they are as informed as possible on childminders views before any decisions are made.

It is vitally important that you attend these Workshops when they are in your area, so that you can have your say, knowing that your comments will be communicated directly to the DCYA and Minister Zappone.

Tues 26 June 2018 @ 7.30pm the Harbour Hotel, Galway
Wed 27 June 2018 @ 7.30pm Sheraton Athlone Hotel, Westmeath

Phone Childminding Ireland on 01 287 8466 or email support@childminding.ie

 

Background

Dr Katherine Zappone Minister for Children and Youth Affairs established a Working Group on Reforms and Supports for the Childminding Sector (Working Group) in late 2016. The Working Group consisted of representatives from:

• Childminding Ireland
• Better Start National Early Years Quality Development
• Childrens’ Rights Alliance
• Pobal
• Academic Representative
• DCYA Early Years Unit
• National Voluntary Childcare Organisation Collaborative
• Tusla, Early Years Inspectorate
• Childminder Representative
• Childcare Committees Ireland

The terms of reference of the Working Group were:

Using research and consultation as required, drawing on international best practice, and acting at all times in the best interests of children –

• Examine the feasibility and implications of the migration from voluntary to mandatory regulation for the childminding sector

• In the short term, identify the reforms and supports that are required to have a robust system of quality assurance for childminders

• Make proposals for, and cost where appropriate, a model of reforms and supports for the childminding sector in the short (1-3 years) term, medium (3-5 years) and long (5-10 years) term

• Provide a description of the childminding sector in Ireland, including all the different categories of childminders and, where possible, the estimated number in each category. Make recommendations in respect of which categories should be included in plans for reform and support of the sector, and – if necessary – provide a rationale for excluding others

 

Having studied and discussed the research and the feedback from the consultations with children, childminders and parents, the Working Group made proposals in the following areas:

1. Legislation
2. Regulation, registration and inspection
3. Quality supports and standards
4. Funding and financial supports
5. Strategy and implementation

Informed by consultation and research, the aims of the Working Group’s proposed childminding reforms and supports were:

• To achieve the best possible outcomes for children;
• To safeguard and protect children;
• To provide parents and families with a safe and nurturing environment for their children;
• To build on the unique strengths of childminding, including close relationships, continuity of care and home-from-home provision in the local community;
• To support childminders to provide enjoyable, high quality care, development and learning opportunities for children of all ages.

 

Summary of the Proposals

The full set of proposals and the supporting documentation are in the Pathway to a quality support and assurance system for childminding Volume 1 & 2 on the Childminding Ireland website.

 

Proposals on regulation, registration and inspection are:

1. Develop the required amendments to the 1991 Child Care Act. The Working Group was aware that the DCYA is reviewing 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’ migration to become regulated providers of childcare.

2. Establish a subgroup on, registration, regulation & 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 but not necessarily limited, to:

The suitability of the childminder
– Up-to-date Certification in First Aid for children,
– Two written references,
– Insurance for the childminding service,
– Certification in Always Children First training,
– Certification in at least the QQI level 5 minor award in childminding, or other recognised qualifications for early years on the DCYA list;
– 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 other people in the home
– A copy of the vetting disclosure for all members of the household aged 18+ 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
The childminder should be required to present:
– Copy of health and safety risk assessment
– Copy of a Fire Safety Plan

3. Create a Communication Strategy, to communicate the benefits of registration, to childminders and parents.

 

Proposals on Quality Standards and Supports are:

1. Establish a subgroup on Quality Standards, Mentoring and Network Development to recommend appropriate quality standards for childminding in the line with the Síolta Framework;

2. As part of a national childminding office, create a system of staffed childminding networks, facilitated by childcare professionals with experience in childminding;

3. Once regulatory and quality standards have been agreed, establish a subgroup to develop education and professional training for childminders:

a. Re-develop the QQI level 5 minor award in Childminding, alongside basic training in Paediatric First Aid and Always Children First;
b. Review other QQI level 5 components with view to including mixed age childcare and business practice for childminders.
c. Consider educational development for childminders in the longer term: continuous professional development, special purpose awards and major awards at different levels.

4. Provide childminders with access to a Learner Fund or equivalent to achieve further childcare qualifications should they wish to;

5. Introduce a Grandfathering Declaration Clause for those close to retirement from childminding.

 

Proposals on Funding and Financial Supports are:

1. Establish a funding and financial support subgroup to review the effectiveness and efficiency of the funding and financial supports to childminding services.

2. All registered and regulated childminding services be eligible to apply to deliver the Affordable Childcare Scheme and other government funded schemes.

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