Written answers

Thursday, 17 November 2022

Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth

Early Childhood Care and Education

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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241. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth when childminders will be added to the national childcare scheme; if an interim measure will be introduced in order that parents who utilise a childminder and cannot get a place in a creche could avail of the reduction in childcare fees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57132/22]

Photo of Roderic O'GormanRoderic O'Gorman (Dublin West, Green Party)
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The National Action Plan for Childminding 2021-2028 commits to opening the National Childcare Scheme to childminders at the earliest possible opportunity, though it will be necessary first to develop and introduce childminder-specific regulations, and to give childminders adequate time and support to meet regulatory requirements.

The Childcare Support Act 2018, which provides a statutory basis for the National Childcare Scheme, specifies that only Tusla-registered providers are eligible to participate in the National Childcare Scheme. The restriction of public funding to Tusla-registered providers helps ensure that funding is only provided where there is assurance of the quality of provision.

Childminders who are currently minding four or more preschool children, or seven or more children of any age, are already required to register with Tusla and can already access the increased subsidies for parents announced in Budget 2023. While only a small number of childminders are currently registered with Tusla, it is intended that the National Action Plan for Childminding will result in the opening up of the National Childcare Scheme to a much wider cohort of childminders.

The overall objective of the National Action Plan is to improve access to high quality and affordable early learning and care and school-age childcare through childminding. To do this, the Action Plan sets out an incremental and supportive pathway to reform.

Phase 1 of the National Action Plan, which began in 2021, is expected to take 2 – 3 years to complete. Phase 1 includes: development of new, childminder-specific regulations that are proportionate and appropriate to the home environment in which childminders work; development and roll-out of new, bespoke training for childminders; amendment of primary legislation to enable childminders to register with Tusla; and re-examining the funding and financial supports available for childminders.

Since coming into office I have been committed to seeing this process through. A great deal of work still lies ahead, and it is important that we take the time to get this right, as it will involve a major process of change.


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