Thousands of parents may receive childminding subsidies under plans going to Cabinet

O’Gorman to seek Cabinet approval to change the legal status of childminders, enabling the National Childcare Scheme to be opened to more parents

Subsidies for thousands of parents using childminders will be a step closer if Cabinet approves plans for legislation aimed at paving the way for the future regulation of the sector.

The legislation also includes measures to bolster the enforcement powers of Tusla’s Early Years Inspectorate including the ability to immediately close unregistered childcare services and share information with parents.

People whose children are in creches are able to avail of subsidies under the National Childcare Scheme (NCS) but many thousands of parents using childminders are not.

Childminders who are not registered with Tusla, the child and family agency, cannot be considered for the NCS.


There is no centralised registration system for childminders, who typically work in people’s homes, but it is estimated there are 15,000 in Ireland. Fewer than 80 were registered with Tusla as of last September.

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman is expected to seek Cabinet approval to bring forward legislation designed to change the legal status of childminders to make future regulation possible and to allow for the NCS to be opened to more parents.

At present most childminders are not regulated as a result of an exemption in the Child Care Act. The planned legislation would remove the exemption as a precursor to childminder-specific regulations being introduced at a later date.

Ultimately the plan is for childminders to go through a registration process. It could be 2024 before parents using them will be able to access subsidies available under the NCS.

The planned legislation also includes measures aimed at strengthening the enforcement powers of Tusla’s Early Years Inspectorate to ensure it has the appropriate means to address cases where serious non-compliance by creches and other providers occurs.

The proposals include the power to immediately close unregistered services, and reforms are also to provide for parents having access to key information in relation to enforcements.

Separately, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly is expected to brief ministerial colleagues on the situation in hospital emergency departments including outlining action to address the overcrowding seen in recent weeks and how the number of patients waiting on trolleys has stabilised.

Mr Donnelly will also seek approval to set up an inter-departmental group to examine the rising cost of healthcare-related compensation claims.

Former master of the National Maternity Hospital Dr Rhona Mahony is set to be proposed as the independent chairwoman of the group which is to look at the sharp increase in the cost of claims. They have gone up from €75.3 million in 2010 to €461 million in 2021, with a further 20 per cent increase projected for 2022.

The group is to focus on high-value claims and make suggestions on measures that could be taken to reduce costs in future.

Their work will coincide with ongoing efforts to reduce the cost of claims by minimising incidents of avoidable harm through improving patient safety and reducing risks.

The Cabinet is also to be briefed on the Department of Social Protection’s expenditure management report which shows a €2 billion surplus in the Social Insurance Fund by the end of 2022.

Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys is expected to tell colleagues that the performance of the fund – used to pay the State pension and other welfare payments – can be attributed to the strong condition of the labour market.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times