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Children’s Minister to seek approval to alter legal status of childminders

The move would allow parents to qualify for the National Childcare Scheme if they have a registered childminder.

CHILDREN’S MINISTER RODERIC O’Gorman will bring a memo to Cabinet this morning to change the legal status of childminders.

If approved, the proposal would make possible the future regulation of childminders and allow access to the National Childcare Scheme to be opened in future to parents who use registered childminders.

The National Childcare Scheme (NCS) provides financial support to help with childcare costs.

There are two types of childcare subsidy under the scheme; a universal one which is not means tested and an income-assessed one which is means tested.

The subsidy is paid directly to the childcare provider, and the childcare provider will then subtract this subsidy from the childcare bill.

However, childcare providers must be registered with Tusla to qualify for the NCS and very few childminders in Ireland are registered.

No financial subsidies are available for care by unregistered childminders and a recent ESRI report on childcare noted that “childminders are almost completely unregulated” in Ireland.

In 2020, there were 15,000 childminders caring for children in the childminder’s home, but only 77 were registered with Tusla.

Speaking on the issue last year, Minister O’Gorman said childminders have been “left aside” from Government supports for a number of years due to the “ad hoc” nature of their service.

He added that the inclusion of childminders in the NCS would benefit “thousands of parents”.

Changes to the legal status of childminders is included as part of a memo that seeks approval to bring forward legislation for better enforcement powers of the Tusla Early Years Inspectorate.

It would ensure that Tusla has the appropriate enforcement powers to address cases where serious non-compliance by early learning and childcare services occurs.

The reforms will also ensure that parents will have access to key information in relation to such enforcements.

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