Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Joint Committee On Children, Equality, Disability, Integration And Youth

National Action Plan for Childminding 2021-2028: Discussion (Resumed)

Mr. Toby Wolfe:

I am happy to answer that question. I want to make it clear that the Department shares the Deputy's concern. The risk of driving childminders out is one of the main factors that has shaped the approach we have taken in the national action plan. The approach set out is intended to be supportive and to help to bring childminders with us on what will be a challenging and new journey for them. The approach is incremental and phased. The initial training bar is deliberately set very low. The issue of financial supports to childminders, which has been discussed briefly already, is to be reviewed. It is important to emphasise that there is a strong focus in the action plan on engagement with childminders, in particular local level engagement. The national action plan commits to developing an infrastructure of supportive local networks across the country. We know from experience here and in other jurisdictions that the most effective way of engaging and supporting childminders is to do so at that local level. In terms of the detail of what exactly the local networks will look like, there is a commitment that during phase 1, we will research, develop and pilot a new model of local support networks, which will then be rolled out. As I said, I share the Deputy's concern.