Chairpersons Letter Winter 2021

Dear Members,

Here we are again at the end of another year. It’s a little bit like Groundhog Day, looking back on last year’s letter and where we were then. I never thought that we would be in this position again, the vaccination programme rolled out earlier this year lulled us into a false sense of security. If anything, the last few months from September to date have been worse than last year. The Delta variant has swept through the younger population from 0-12 years old. In 26 years of childminding, I have never been so anxious. As I unlock the door every morning, I am conscious that I have no idea what is coming in this morning. I never know what the day will bring. The respiratory illnesses were always part of our lives at this time of year. However, this year I find the 0-4 year olds have little or no immunity, and there seems to be a constant cycle of runny noses, chesty coughs, and high temperatures. GPs’ reluctance to see these children in spite of having obtained negative PCR tests is a huge issue. This is very challenging and stressful for those of us working with this age group. Parents are unhappy when you have to refuse them, they are under pressure at work as they seek more time off to stay at home with their child.

Despite all the stress, anxiety and worries, one thing remains constant and that is the support that members of Childminding Ireland share with each other every day on our Members Facebook page. It is very heartening to see the instant response from everyone when a member calls out for help. The practical advice, links posted, and genuine care and support is an invaluable resource to those of us who work alone. I would like to thank everyone who participates in the group for their contributions, their courtesy to all posters, and above all, for being there. Once again, I would invite more members to join this group.

It has been a difficult year for us here in Childminding Ireland. We did not withdraw from the Workforce Development Plan Group very easily. It was a big decision, as was our appearance before the Joint Oireachtas Committee. To all of you who contacted your local TDs’ a huge thank you. It is vital that we all continue to work together to get the best outcome for the children, their parents and the Childminders as NCAP is being developed. To those of you who have been selected to represent childminding on the various groups currently meeting, thank you for participating and representing us. It is important that everyone familiarizes themselves with the challenges currently facing our colleagues in full day care and ECCE services. We must ensure that the cumbersome model of NCS currently being used by services is not “cut, copied and pasted” for childminding. As you are aware, our representation on these groups is proportionately very small to the overall make-up of the groups. Every member must keep themselves informed of all developments that pertain to our sector.

Finally, I want to thank our staff. As you know, Childminding Ireland has one full time staff member and four part time. They work extremely hard on our behalf while operating on a shoestring budget. Our funding from the Department has not been increased for years. Every year, our staff deliver more with less resources. To Bernadette, Mairead, Lara, Mary and Bernie, a huge thank you. We really appreciate all you do on our behalf. I would also like to thank our Board Directors for the time they give to the organisation. It is a voluntary role and a very important part of Childminding Ireland. I would like to thank our four new members who joined us for the November meeting. They are Ger Galvin, Sylvia Elworthy, Rebecca Sullivan and Sharon McDonagh. And to our continuing members, Marian Murray, Liz Butler, Gwyneth Brophy, and Aedin O’Toole, a big thank you for all your support over this year. I wish every member a healthy and safe Christmas, and the same for your family and the children and parents who use your service. Please God, 2022 will be a better year.

Every good wish,

Mary Walsh,
Childminding Ireland.

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