Friday 20 September 2019

Government plan to reduce the cost of using childminders for parents

Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone (Niall Carson/PA)
Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone (Niall Carson/PA)
Hugh O'Connell

Hugh O'Connell

Thousands of parents will be able to cut the cost of sending their children to childminders under new Government proposals.

Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone is launching a draft action plan today that aims to phase in supports for parents who use non-relative regulated childminders.

The proposal envisages extending subsidies under the National Childcare Scheme that are used to offset crèche fees to parents who use childminders, provided they are registered with Tusla.

However, the current proposals will exclude parents who rely on relatives such as grandparents to look after their children.

There are also no plans to regulate childminders who work in the children’s homes – such as nannies or au pairs – who are directly employed by parents.

Ms Zappone will set out proposals for improving access to high-quality and affordable early learning and care and school-age childcare through childminding.

Childminders who are typically self-employed and work in their own homes looking after other people’s children don’t currently fall under the National Childcare Scheme.

There are estimated to be as many as 19,000 although the Government expects that a new registration push will see as many as 10,000 sign up.

Under the Government proposals, which will be put out for public consultation, subsidies will be rolled out for those using childminders.

This is provided they are registered with Tusla and have completed initial training requirements.

They will also have to meet other core regulatory requirements, such as Garda vetting and first aid training.

These childminders will also be required to complete further training over a number of years.

However, the level of training and qualifications required to come under the subsidy scheme has yet to be determined.

The draft action plan proposes to develop resources in relation to the use of nannies or au pairs, including information for parents.

But there are no plans as yet for the regulation of this area.

Speaking at the launch today, Ms Zappone will say: "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. "

Value

"It recognises the valuable work that childminders do and aims to ensure they can access the supports they need," she will say.

"The draft action plan sets out positive reform proposals to bring childminding into the mainstream of support, funding and regulation."

The public consultation includes a call for submissions, an online survey and focus groups of childminders.

Irish Independent

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