Minister Katherine Zappone recently launched the Draft Action Plan (Dréachtphlean Gníomhaíochta um Fheighlíocht Leanaí) which sets out proposals for improving access to high quality and affordable early learning and care and school-age childcare through childminding.
The action plan sets out proposals to extend supports and regulation to all paid, non-relative childminders, with a phased approach to reforms extending over a 10 year period.
There is no intention to extend regulation to those who care for children who are related to them or to persons employed by the parents to care for children in the family home.
Leitrim County Council will facilitate a local public consultation on the draft National Childminding Action Plan.
The date is Tuesday next 29th October 2019 in ‘Childhood Days’ Laird House, Drumshanbo, at 7pm.
Childminders, parents, other stakeholders and anyone interested in childminding are invited to attend the consultation to share their views.
Speaking at the launch of the Action Plan earlier this year, Minister Zappone said: “Childminding is of huge importance to children, to parents, to our economy, and to our society. However, it has not received the support it deserves in our public funding or our system of regulation.
“This Draft Action Plan aims to address this. It recognises the valuable work that childminders do and aims to ensure they can access the supports they need. The Draft Action Plan sets out positive reform proposals to bring childminding into the mainstream of support, funding and regulation.”
A cornerstone of the Draft Action Plan is recognition of the differences between childminding and centre-based provision of early learning and care and school-age childcare.
Given the home and family setting in which childminders operate, the Draft Childminding Action Plan proposes the development of childminder-specific Regulations.
These should be proportionate and appropriate to the home setting.
The Regulations will also outline the development of bespoke training and qualifications for childminders.
A key benefit of the proposal to bring childminding into the scope of regulation is that it will allow parents who use childminders to access subsidies under the National Childcare Scheme (NCS), which will require use of Tusla-registered service providers.
In this way the Draft Plan aims to support parental choice in type of provider of early learning and care and school-age childcare.