National childcare scheme: Up to 19,000 minders to be regulated

Department has not yet decided what level of qualifications minders must have

Up to 19,000 childminders will be regulated by Government for the first time under plans due to be announced on Thursday by Minister for Children Katherine Zappone.

The move will allow parents who use childminders to avail of the new national childcare scheme (NCS), which is due to begin on October 29th and will replace a range of childcare support schemes.

The new scheme entitles families to financial supports, based on income, to access private and community childcare facilities.

Under the new draft childminding action plan to be launched today, support and regulation in the sector will be extended to all paid, non-relative childminders, with a “phased approach” to the reforms.


The childminders will have to be Garda vetted and be trained in first aid. They will also be required to have “bespoke” qualifications, although the department has not yet decided what level these will be at.

It is estimated that one in 10 children under the age of 12 are cared for by childminders.

‘Huge importance’

“Childminding is of huge importance to children, to parents, to our economy, and to our society. However, it has not received the support it deserves in our public funding or our system of regulation,” Ms Zappone said.

She said the new plan aims to recognise “the valuable work that childminders do and aims to ensure they can access the supports they need”.

The department has said the new childminder-specific regulations will be “proportionate and appropriate to the home setting”, adding, “The regulations will also outline the development of bespoke training and qualifications for childminders.”

The plan mainly addresses childminders who work in their own homes and who are self-employed. It does not propose to regulate nannies or au-pairs.

The department has estimated that there may be up to 19,000 childminders working in the country, and expects between 5,000 and 10,000 childminders to sign up to the plan.

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times