Early Childhood Ireland has welcomed a Government-commissioned report recommending that all childminders be registered.
Childminders are self-employed childcare providers working in their own home, often for several families.
There are an estimated 35,000 childminders nationally minding approximately 88,000 children, but fewer than 120 are registered with Tusla, the child and family agency.
The report, Pathway to a Quality Support and Assurance System for Childminding In Ireland, recommends the registration, regulation, and inspection of home-based paid childcare.
Early Childhood Ireland, the largest organisation in the early years sector, says the report is an important step towards improving rights for children.
“It offers reassurance to parents that basic protections and standards will be in place in both centre and home-based care settings,” said its director of policy and advocacy, Frances Byrne.
“We urge the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to ensure there is a communications plan in place about these changes as soon as possible.”
Seas Suas, an organisation representing independent childcare and early education, has warned that parents will have no choice but to rely on unqualified, unregulated childcare services because of the shortage of childcare spaces in creche and childcare facilities.
“The crisis in the sector because of a shortage of staff, changes in regulatory requirements, and insufficient State funding for under-2s is pushing parents in a direction that they may not want to go,” said a spokesperson for Seas Suas.
Childminding Ireland will hold meetings throughout the country to collect feedback on the report’s proposals for the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.
Bernadette Orbinski Burke, chief executive of Childminding Ireland and chair of the working group tasked with producing the report, said that “nothing was set in stone” yet.
The department said its plan on implementing the report’s proposals will be ready by the end of the year.
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