The Northern Ireland Childminding Association (NICMA) has officially opened its new premises in East Belfast and is calling for more people to consider registered childminding as a career choice.
Its recent social media campaign, funded by the Western Childcare Partnership and supported by Family Support NI, reinforces the importance of parents using registered childminders to care for their children. The purpose of registration is to protect children, to provide reassurance to parents using childcare and to ensure that childminding services meet minimum standards.
NICMA CEO, Patricia Lewsley-Mooney explained: “We felt that it was important to get parents to think about their choice of childminder. We know that parents ultimately want to keep their children safe, and some parents will feel that they have a choice to make between using a registered childminder or an unregistered childminder.
“However, quite simply there is no choice. The law is very clear, anybody looking after children for more than two hours a day, for reward, must register with the Health and Social Care Trust. This is to keep children safe. Registered childminders will have completed Access NI checks on all individuals in the household over the age of 10 and will have Public Liability insurance.
“A registered childminder will also be required to update mandatory training every three years. They will be registered by the Trust and inspected on an annual basis by Early Years Social Workers. These checks help to keep your child safe, so you really should mind who is looking after your child. In addition, we provide advice and work in partnership with other organisations such as Family Support NI and the Western Childcare Partnership, who detail local services and information to support you and your family.”
The integrated communications campaign which runs until January 2020 focuses primarily on the Western Trust area. It is hoped the campaign will also promote childcare as a career option to address the decreasing number of childcare places within the area and also to challenge unregistered childcare within the locality.
Patricia added: “Over a four year period the Western Health and Social Care Trust (WHSCT) area has seen a decline in registered childminders from 580 in March 2015 to 504 in March 2019. This represents a decrease of 12% and a reduction of 456 day care places in the WHSCT area.
“We believe that this campaign will reinforce to parents the importance of using a registered childminder and that it may prompt unregistered childminders to get registered. By completing the relevant mandatory training, Access NI checks and getting Public Liability insurance in place, they will be helping to not only keep the children in their care safe, but to protect themselves.”