Coade Concerned about Childcare System.
Newry and Armagh Alliance representative Jackie Coade has expressed concerns regarding the state of the childcare system in Northern Ireland. Like other struggling sectors following the Covid 19 crisis, childcare is on the brink of collapsing.
Nicma (the Northern Ireland Childminding Association) is concerned that hundreds of registered child-minding businesses will not survive the Covid-19 outbreak as they struggle financially without support, and that the safety of children could be put at risk. Child-minders have seen their business disappear overnight, freeing the market for unregistered child-minders to step in to provide the service without the necessary safeguarding.
Speaking on the issue Ms Coade said: “It is imperative that childminders are not left behind following the Covid 19 crisis.
“Any economic recovery package needs to include childminders who are now struggling financially with no furloughing made available to them, reduced numbers of children due to restrictions, confusion within the Childcare Support Scheme for childminders and a lack of communication amongst organisations.
“Child minders I have spoken to in Newry and Armagh don’t want money thrown at them, they want to get back to work. In order to do this they need clarification from the departments on how many children they can resume working with.
“These workers are professionals and are a valued section of our workforce providing a valuable service for working parents. At the moment I think it’s fair to say they are feeling undervalued.”
Confusion has now set in regarding two definitions of key workers. One from the health trusts regarding key workers only, the other regarding those who qualify via the Education Authority.
This confusion has resulted in those who are now unable to get childcare are looking to unregistered childminders or grandparents for support.
This obviously brings health risks with it. Unregistered individuals will not have been vetted, it will be a safeguarding issue and they will definitely have no public liability insurance. And it is a risk to the health of the minders, especially the grand-parents.
Ms Coade added: “Using unregistered childminders can be very dangerous as it presents its own risks and can be a health and safety issue for the children involved.
“It is important that we do everything we can to ensure childminders within Newry and Armagh and across Down are given the right support following the Covid 19 epidemic as we make our way into a possible deep recession.”