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Childminders to face inspections, training and Garda vetting under new action plan

The new plan hopes to see thousands of childminders registered with Tusla.

MINISTER FOR CHILDREN Katherine Zappone has announced plans to regulate up to 10,000 childminders under a new childminding action plan unveiled today.

Under the plan, childminders will need to undergo fresh training, be Garda vetted and their homes will have to comply with basic standards.

0763 Childminding_90578654 Source: Leah Farrell

The plan proposes to bring childminders into the National Childcare Scheme which is due to come into effect this October.

This would enable parents to get subsidies for payments to childminders who are registered with Tusla.

It is not known how many childminders operate in Ireland but CSO data suggests there may be up to 19,000. Currently just 81 of them are registered with Tusla. The plans include the hiring of six development officers who will be encouraging more to register with the Child and Family Agency.

Speaking at the launch of the plan today Minister Zappone said that it’s hoped they will be able to get up to 10,000 minders on board as it’s phased in over the next two to three years.

She said that the RTÉ investigation into the Hyde and Seek creche chain, which raised concerns about fire safety and child protection, highlighted the need to strengthen the powers of Tusla.

The draft action plan, which includes a public consultation process, will investigate empowering Tusla to deregister “problematic” childminding services and to shut down services that aren’t registered.

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The plan mainly addressed self-employed childminders who work in their own homes. It does not propose extending regulations to people who work in the children’s homes, who are regarded as employees of the children’s parents, or to people who care for children that they are related to.

The minister was keen to stress that the plan represents a learning opportunity for minders and they should not be wary of the regulations. 

“Childminding is of huge importance to children, to parents, to our economy, and to our society,” she said.

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,” she added.

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Ceimin Burke

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