Barnardos calls for regulation of childminders in the home

An investigation into childminders would uncover problems, says Fergus Finlay

If undercover investigations could be made into the unregulated area of childminding in the home similar problems to those uncovered in a television programme on creches would be found, the chief executive of children's charity Barnardos has said.

Fergus Finlay said there is "no other jurisdiction in the world" that would tolerate the unregulated nature of childminding practices.

“There are thousands of childminders in Ireland who are legally allowed to mind up to four children in their own home without any registration, without any licensing and without any training,” he said.

Black economy
"I am absolutely certain that if you could do the same undercover report you'd find problems because none of it is based on a set of accepted standards and an awful lot of it is in the black economy."


Mr Finlay said he was “absolutely certain” the majority of childminders were “fine decent women in the main”.

He said he was aware childminders could earn a certain amount of money without having to declare for tax.

“I personally don’t have any great objection to modest earnings being outside the tax net, but I have fundamental problems with people setting themselves up as childminders . . . completely outside any system of registration or inspection,” he said.

He suggested a model such as that practised in France, which operates a “nanny system”, could work in Ireland. Nannies in France could not operate “without a licence, without 40 hours of training, without pre-inspection and regular inspection”.

He said “we went from a culture that insisted on women staying at home to mind their children, to a culture that insisted on women getting into the workplace as quickly as possible, almost overnight”.

“The first was wrong, the second thing was just as wrong.”

He said the programme had shown some childcare facilities were “highly profitable”, but only because of “inadequate supervision, minimum wages, no career structures and no training”.

“Why would you take out a graduate degree in childhood development to work for the minimum wage?” he asked.

Fiona Gartland

Fiona Gartland

Fiona Gartland is a crime writer and former Irish Times journalist