Parents warned against the risks of using unregistered childminders

A recent survey of more than 900 childminders suggests that ‘Unregistered, illegal childminding’ continues to be a growing problem.  27% of all those childminders surveyed stated that they knew of one or two unregistered childminders operating in their area.  A further 10% stated that they knew of three or more unregistered childminders operating in their area.
The law is very clear: anybody looking after children for more than 2 hours a day, for reward, MUST register with the Health & Social Care Trust. 
The Children Order (1995) NI Guidance and Regulations states that the purpose of registration is:
  • To protect children
  • To provide reassurance to persons using childcare
  • To ensure that services meet acceptable standards
  • To  ensure that people wishing to provide services for children do so within an agreed framework
Article 132 states:
In the case of a childminder, it is an offence to look after children aged under twelve whilst unregistered

Not only does operating illegally potentially put children at risk, it also makes it harder for law-abiding registered childminders to survive when they are faced with this unfair competition.

Bridget Nodder, NICMA’s Director says:  “ We are very concerned at these findings which suggest that there is widespread use of unregistered childminders.  Our main concern is that the use of illegal childcarers – who have not been inspected, have not had a criminal records check, and may have no insurance – is putting the safety of children at risk.”
Parents can gain financially if they use a registered childminder.  Bridget points out that:
“Many parents using a registered childminder are eligible for help with the cost of childcare through the tax credit system and the soon to be introduced tax-free childcare scheme – that’s an advantage which those using unregistered childcare aren’t entitled to.”
Bridget goes on to say that: 
“NICMA would urge unregistered childminders to apply for registration.  It’s a fairly straightforward process and we are always happy to support anyone going through the process.  The great advantage of becoming registered is that you are operating as a professional and can take pride in what you do.”
“It’s also important to recognise the vital role that childminders play in fostering a childs development.  The evidence shows that childcarers who have received training provide better quality childcare than those who have not.”
Registered Childminders are self-employed daycare providers who work in their own home to provide care and learning opportunities for children within a family setting.  They are registered by the Health & Social Care Trust and inspected annually and may be able to care for up to six children from a few months to 12 years of age [including their own children].  Only REGISTERED Childminding is considered eligible when applying for help with childcare costs.

To become registered, a Childminder is required to comply with standards of safety and numbers of children.  The home is checked to ensure that it meets the standards required and that it is a safe, suitable environment for children.  Childminders are required to have completed training in Health & Safety, Safeguarding and First Aid as well as having references, health checks and criminal records checks on all individuals in the household over the age of 10.  Each childminder is issued with a Registration Certificate which any parent should ask to see as this is their licence to practice.

For more information see Choosing a Childminder or Becoming a Childminder
You can also telephone the NICMA office on 028 918 11015