Following the release of “stark” childcare statistics from a local survey, a regional childminding charity is lobbying parents to discontinue their use of unregistered childminders.
The Northern Ireland Childminding Association (NICMA) is launching a major publicity drive aimed at persuading parents of the benefits of using registered childminders.
It follows recent statistics which showed that just over one third of 200 newly registered childminders said they knew of at least one unregistered childminder operating in their area. Under current legislation, it is illegal for any childminder who is paid for more than two hours’ childcare a day to operate without registering with their local health and social care trust.
Liz Brown, NICMA’s Belfast area childminding development officer, said: “We’re very concerned at these findings. They 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 record check, and have no insurance — is putting the safety of children at risk.
“But the survey findings also show that unregistered childminders are making it more difficult for some legitimate childminders to fill their places. It’s quite unfair that those who follow the rules and adhere to proper standards are being penalised at the expense of those who are flouting the law.”
Postcards with information and advice on choosing a registered childminder will be available at libraries, doctors’ surgeries and other public venues.