Thursday, 11 July 2019

Questions (846)

Anne Rabbitte


846. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of FTE childminder advisory officers employed. [30710/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

The National Childminding Initiative, which began in 2002, contained a number of strands to support childminders. One of the strands was the appointment of Childminding Advisory Officers, some of whom were employed by the HSE and some by City and County Childcare Committees. Their roles included offering information, support and training to childminders; maintaining the voluntary notification system; and administering other supports for childminders. The Childminding Advisory Officer posts were largely discontinued in 2012-2013 in the context of widespread budget cuts. One Childminding Advisory Officer post remains in place in a County Childcare Committee.

Notwithstanding the reduced resources, the City/County Childcare Committees and the National Voluntary Organisations, funded by my Department, have continued to play a significant role in supporting childminders as well as centre-based early learning and care and school age childcare services. Many of the actions have continued, including the continuation of the Childminding Development Grant scheme on an annual basis, through the work of other staff within City/County Childcare Committees.

My Department recently appointed a National Childminding Coordinator, who will support the implementation of the forthcoming Childminding Action Plan at national level, and who will also oversee the work of a new team of 6 regional Childminding Development Officers, for which funding was secured in Budget 2019.

The new Childminding Development Officer posts will be full-time posts, located within City and County Childcare Committees, with each regional officer supporting a cluster of City and County Childcare Committees to work with and support childminders.

Officials in my Department are currently working closely with City and County Childcare Committees to ensure the recruitment this summer of the new regional posts. Their immediate task will be to work with all the City and County Childcare Committees to maximise the number of childminders who can register with Tusla within the current regulatory framework and take part in the National Childcare Scheme. They will also play an important role in working with the City and County Childcare Committees to assist in the registration and support of a much wider cohort of childminders through the Childminding Action Plan.