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Reduced hours and more vacancies are 'worrying' for childminders

A survey has found that the number of childminders working for 40 hours or more per week has reduced as National Childminding Week was launched at the weekend.

Children at the launch of Childminding Week over the weekend
Children at the launch of Childminding Week over the weekend
Image: Childminding Ireland

CHILDMINDERS ARE GETTING fewer hours and there are more vacancies for them according to a survey published over the weekend.

The survey published by Childminding Ireland indicated that while the national average weekly rate for a full time child minder remains at €151, the number of childminders who reported working for 40 hours or more per week was down 6 per cent on 2010 findings.

Forty-four per cent reported having vacancies within their service, an increase on previous years while 57 per cent reported a reduction in hours at the request of parents which the group said was most likely due to parents’ working hours being reduced.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Childminding Ireland’s Siobhan Kennedy said that the figures were “worrying” adding that it’s the second year in a row that such figures have been reported.

She also pointed to the survey’s finding that 85 per cent of childminders have a written agreement in place with a parent, down from 93 per cent who reported having such an agreement in 2009.

“It’s the second year we’ve noticed this,” she said. “An awful lot of childminders have been asked by parents to reduce their hours due to a reduction in parents’ working hours.

“Written contracts have decreased and this might be part of the recession. Parents are look for that little bit more flexibility and don’t want to be tied into a structured agreement.”

The group had its AGM in Dublin last weekend as part of National Childminding Week with Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald attending and pledging to address the issue in the context of getting people back to work generally, thus providing more opportunities for childminders.

Kennedy said: “She’s gone away armed with this information and it’s one area that she hopes to improve on in terms of getting people back to work, particularly single parents.”

Kennedy said this was where childminders could come into play.  She also said: “We also brought up other issues such as the tax free allowance for childminders for the first €15,000 they earn and we hope this continues.

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She said the group hoped to work closely with the Minister who invited it to work on a new working group that is to develop a strategy for children in Ireland as it looks to implement childcare models based on some of the Scandinavian models.

Other findings from the National Survey of Registered Childminders 2011, collected from 34 per cent of members, included:

  • 57 per cent of respondents hold nationally accredited childcare qualifications such as FETAC or HETAC.
  • 86 per cent have undertaken First Aid training
  • 70 per cent have completed the Quality Awareness Programme for Childminders.
  • 36 per cent of participants hold ‘other’ Childcare qualifications which include Montessori Training, Nursing, and Social Work among others.

Childminders also cited training and on-going development in the field as being one of the issues of most importance to them, second only to their wish to be valued by parents.

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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