Purpose, Vision & Values

Become a Childminder

About Us

NICMA – the Childminding Association was established in 1984 as a charity and membership organisation to support and develop registered childminding for the benefit of children, families and communities. It is the sole organisation representing childminders in Northern Ireland with 65% of registered childminders here as members.

What is Childminding?

Under the Children [NI] Order 1995 a Registered Childminder is defined as:

"A person acts as a childminder if – (a) they look after one or more children under the age of twelve for reward; and (b) the period, or the total of the periods, which they spend so looking after children in any day exceeds two hours."

Childminding provides care and learning for children aged between 0 – 14 years. It is normally provided in the Childminder’s home. Childminding supports the effective learning of children by providing opportunities for individual attention as well as the rich learning environment of the home and local community. Childminders operate their own self-employed businesses under contract with parents.

In order to achieve registration a Childminder is required to comply with specific standards. The home environment is checked to ensure that it meets the standards required and that it is a suitable environment to care for children. References and health checks are required, as are vetting checks on all individuals in the household over the age of 10. A Childminder may be registered to care for 6 children under the age of 12 [including their own children], of whom no more than 3 are under school age.

Accountability for the delivery of childcare lies with the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DOH) . Responsibility for registration and inspection of Childminders lies with the 5 Health & Social Care Trusts, supported by both the Children [NI] Order 1995 and the Children Order Guidance and the Childminding and DayCare for Children under age 12 Minimum Standards and supporting documentation.


The purpose of the NICMA is :
‘To promote quality home based childcare & learning for the benefit of children,
families and communities’.


Our vision for the future is one where all children are cared for and provided with the opportunity to learn and develop in a safe, enjoyable home environment and where childminders are recognised and valued as skilled, qualified professionals.


NICMA believes that the following values should underpin all aspects of its work.

Child Centred

The well being and rights of the child are paramount.

Loving Care

All children have the right to experience consistent, good quality, loving care.


All children are individuals with different needs, interest and abilities.


All children have the right to be protected.


Everyone has a valuable contribution to make.

Dignity and Respect

Everyone has the right to be treated with dignity and respect.


All stakeholders have the right to expect a service of the highest professional standard. We will continuously improve the quality of what we do by consulting and reflecting on our actions.


Everyone has the right to expect that personal information will be treated confidentially.


Families are the main carers and educators of their children and they have the right to choose their care and education.


Families have the right to expect that services will be provided in partnership with them.


NICMA recognise and value those individuals who contribute to providing an effective, efficient, high quality Family Child Care service.


Everyone has the right to expect that personal information will be treated confidentially.

“promote the provision of high quality childcare and learning within registered, home based settings for children aged 0 – 14 years”

Strategic Aims

Children & Childcare

  1. To promote the provision of high quality childcare and education within registered, home based settings for children aged 0 – 14 years
  2. To encourage legal Childminding
  3. To work in effective partnerships with relevant external bodies in order to influence and develop policy
  4. To ensure that home based childcare is recognised and valued as beneficial to children, families, communities and government

Training & Quality

  1. To provide a programme of training and quality initiatives to support and enhance the quality of home based childcare
  2. To deliver a high quality training service appropriate to the lifelong learning needs and aspirations of registered Childminders in Northern Ireland.
  3. To maintain a highly trained, motivated workforce appropriate to the needs of the Childminding sector.
  4. To provide a high quality learning environment to meet the needs of all Childminders.
  5. To provide support and guidance to ensure all Childminders meet minimum standard requirements

Support Services

  1. To provide a support network to registered Childminders and approved Home Childcarers
  2. To provide a Childminding Information & Advice service to Childminders, Approved Home Childcarers, parents and those involved in early years
  3. To represent the views of the Childminding sector in order to inform the development of future childcare policy


  1. To have in place a financial strategy which will provide sufficient resources to allow NICMA to achieve its aims
  2. To recruit, support and develop staff and volunteers to ensure a motivated, efficient team, running to its full potential, which will achieve the organisations aims and objectives.

Interested in Childminding

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