Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children Robert Troy has called on the Minister for Children to reinstate funding and support for childminders through the HSE as part of efforts to ensure standards for the care of children in the early years are progressively raised.
Deputy Troy said: “Thousands of childminders were being supported through the Childminding Advisory Service who are now being left without a support structure at a time when standards are being scrutinised more closely by parents and those working in the sector. The childcare sector is already under the spotlight and attention is turning to childminding with much of this sector unregulated.
“If Minister Fitzgerald is serious about improving standards she will ensure this vital support for childminders is reinstated and that regulation applies to deliver a professional service. The Minister has previously been slow to commit to regulating the childminding sector and I would urge the Minister to end this uncertainty.
“In the Heads of the Bill for the Children First legislation the Minister did not include Childminders among the people who will be required to report concerns about children’s safety. The Minister has not confirmed whether this will be amended in the full Bill which has been consistently delayed. If this is not dealt with I will be putting down amendments to the Bill. Unfortunately it now seems inevitable that this legislation will not now be published until the autumn. This is a terrible delay.
“Minister Fitzgerald has introduced a number of excuses as to why this legislation has been delayed. In the Dáil today the Taoiseach sought to introduce a new excuse – the fact that the Minister has to take account of the 700 page report from the Committee on the Heads of the Bill. I have consistently sought a timeline from Minister Fitzgerald about when the legislation would be published, debated and passed into law. These delays have gotten totally out of hand.
“Fianna Fáil has previously sought to have professional childminders included in garda vetting legislation seven months ago but this was rejected out of hand by the Government. This Government must take responsibility for its own actions. The fact is this government that stopped funding support for childminders and refused to extend garda vetting to childminders. Minister Fitzgerald needs to understand that we are trying to be constructive in the debate on these issues, bringing forward proposals to assist the Government, those working in childcare and parents.”