GOVERNMENT PROPOSALS WILL DESTROY CHILDMINDING IN IRELAND
THE DRAFT CHILDMINDING ACTION PLAN IS NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE
NEW STATE POLICY EXHIBITS CLEAR BIAS IN FAVOUR OF CRECHE INDUSTRY
CHILD CARE COSTS WILL INCREASE FOR THOUSANDS AS THE STATE PUSHES PARENTS TOWARDS THE CRECHE INDUSTRY AND AWAY FROM LOCAL CHILDMINDERS
There are an estimated 35,000 childminders in Ireland and Childminding Ireland the National Body for Childminding in Ireland has said that the draft Childminding Action Plan will seriously damage childminding in Ireland and undermine the position of thousands of childminders who look after children in their own homes each day.
Childminding Ireland believes that the new Draft Action Plan is misguided, too focused on centre based (crèche) facilities and pays lip service to, but does not respect the enormous contribution made by Childminders who look after children in their own homes each day. The organisation is calling on Minister Katherine Zappone to withdraw the Draft Action Plan and resubmit a new document with a clear vision for regulated quality childminding, which actually recognises the contribution, role and function of childminders in the provision of childcare to thousands of Irish children each day.
Bernadette Orbinski Burke, the CEO of Childminding Ireland called on Minister Zappone to take tangible steps to give recognition to Childminders in Ireland.
“ the Draft Childminding Action Plan is entirely imbalanced and written with little understanding of the complexities of childminding. Instead of embracing and supporting the thousands of childminders who lovingly care for the children in their own homes each day, it is will marginalise them and deny parents’ choice”.
Childminding Ireland believes that the Draft Action Plan is seriously deficient when it comes to addressing the challenges faced by childminders and will have the effect of marginalising them. It also fails to recognise the resource that childminders present as trusted and caring childcare providers.
The Draft Action Plan pushes childminders to the bottom of the pile when examining supports and resources for different childcare providers
• The proposed National Workforce Development Plan Steering Group which is deciding the qualifications for childminding has no childminder representative on the group – it has, however, a representative from the crèche sector.
• An open Policy Debate on 16 October is being held on a working day for childminders in Dublin – few will be able to attend – there will be no childminding representative presenting at that Debate.
• There is no public information campaign around the Draft Action Plan – thousands of childminders will be unaware of these changes.
• The Draft Action Plan displays a complete lack of knowledge, of the childminding sector and is presenting high level policy proposals which are uninformed by childminding
• The most likely outcome of the Draft Action Plan will be to push parents away from local childminders and instead towards crèches, removing parental choice.
• This will lead to increased childcare costs, diminished capacity, reduced flexibility and a model of childcare which will be corporatised rather than based on the high level of personal service and commitment that a childminder operating in the childminder’s own home can provide.
Ms Orbinski Burke commented;
The Government needs to go back to the drawing board with this Draft Action Plan and produce a set of proposals which is balanced, targeted and embraces childminding rather than marginalising childminders and the services that they provide to thousands of parents each day.
Childminding Ireland is seeking an urgent meeting with Minister Zappone and will be encouraging childminders nationally to contact their local TDs and Senators to raise the concerns about the one-sided approach being adopted by the Government on childcare provision.
Facts about Childminding in Ireland
Childminding is multifaceted and for a national policy to be effective it will have to be informed by the complexities including the following considerations:
a) Parental Choice: Childminding is a childcare model that gives parents the opportunity to have their children minded, in a home-from-home, child-led, unstructured setting that is focused on childhood.
b) Parental Satisfaction: Parents using childminders gave a 93.2% satisfaction n=1,208 (satisfied 21.4% and very satisfied 71.8%) rating in the Working Group’s parental survey. Parents choose childminding and by implication are concerned with its survival.
c) Access to Employment: Childminders support parents back to work and to start their own business. Childminders provide flexibility that is not available in centre-based childcare. When parents were asked ‘In what areas of your life do you think your childminder has an impact?’ 70.4% (n=1,216) weighted the highest impact as ‘My return to work’
d) Supporting Low Paid Workers: Parents working irregular hours and those on lower income need childminding to support their ability to work. (47.63% of respondents in the Working Group’s parental survey reported a net annual household income of €49,999 or less ). Childminding fees are generally lower than those of centre-based childcare.
e) Community Development: Children are regularly taken out by childminders into their own community. The children are familiar with their local community and through them their parents. The opportunity for children to stay in their local communities is especially important in rural Ireland, if children are taken to a larger town in order to attend centre-based care they often go on to the national school in the town. This decreases numbers attending local rural schools, which are pivotal to the local community.
f) Rural Sustainability: Childminding provides childcare in areas where there are little or no centre-based facilities allowing working parents to live in rural Ireland. The flexibility nature of childminding supports parents’ ability to work.
g) Women’s Issue: Childminding is primarily a women’s career affording them the opportunity to stay at home with their own children and at the same time supporting other working women.
h) Financial Reality: Childminders are poorly paid, most childminders earn €5.00 per hour per child. Childminding Ireland members survey shows the average weekly childminding income is €305.00 .
i) Underpinning the Economy: There are thousands of families depending on childminders in every county in Ireland, the negative impact of getting supports and reforms wrong would be disastrous for children and for families.
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