By Sylvia Elworthy
As a childminder providing a service to the local community over the last 15 years and a constituent of the current Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O’Gorman I decided to invite him to my home and setting.
I am working in childcare for over 30 years, both abroad and here in Ireland, in public and private settings. Being a Tusla registered childminder since 2011 and a member of CMI, I wanted the Minister to see first-hand what childminding really is, our daily routines, what it means to “jump through hoops” and adjust our private space to accommodate other families and their children. Also I wanted to address some concerns childminders have, especially with the upcoming changes to the National Action Plan for childminders, knowing very well there is lots of anger and worry about the future of Childminding in Ireland.
After accepting the invitation, a date for the visit was set – 5th of May from 12:30 to 13:30.
I work with five children at a time and on Fridays finish at 13:00 which means children were here for a period of time when the Minister visits us and I was hoping after sending them home to have time to discuss and raise some concerns.
I prepared the children for the visit – explained who is coming, what he does and they tried to remember the Ministers name ( it was a challenge for some children because the age group is 2 to 4years and 6 months ) but they did their best. One of the little one mentioned at home that “St. Patrick is coming to Sylvi’s”.
When talking to the children about what we can do for the Minister, they suggested to make a picture for him – recently we made a picture for the Oncology ward in a children’s hospital in Bulgaria (to cheer them up and make them better) and children suggested that we can make the same for the Minister. We used the technique of Jackson Pollok using sticks, spoons, brushes to splash the paints on the canister.
We love baking and they thought of baking Nutella biscuits for the visit, as we had great fun doing this a few weeks before.
During the visit the Minister felt very at ease with the children, they were excited to present the picture (he was very impressed by it) and after that we all enjoyed the tasty biscuits.
When the children went home we had a chance to discuss current and future challenges in childminding. Also, as a Tusla registered provider I raised some questions.
Overall the experience was very open, honest and constructive. I hope this is a positive beginning on this long journey we are all on.