The “Growing Up in Ireland” study has found that, despite being responsible for almost a third of all infants in some form of childcare, 55% of childminders have no recognised qualification or training.
Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald, who launched the latest report, insisted that more people wanting to work with children were taking further education courses, ensuring improved quality.
“We are seeing improving qualifications in childcare centres,” Ms Fitzgerald said.
“More people now do Fetac (Further Education and Training Awards Council) training and we are going to make it obligatory that you have qualifications if you’re going to work in a childcare centre.” The study revealed that 22% of childminders hold this qualification.
Nearly 6% had a higher education qualification, almost 14% had completed some sort of related course, and 3.5% had been awarded a childcare qualification from outside Ireland.
The remaining 55% had no formal qualification at all.
The report pointed out that while childminders caring for three or fewer children are not required by Irish law to have a formal qualification and are exempt from regulation, promoting training and qualification among them would “advance the quality of care”.
The report also found that 40% of infants were in some form of childcare at nine months, with 42% of those being looked after by relatives, 31% by home-based childminders and 27% being cared for in a childcare centre.
Childminders who look after more than three children at once are required by law to notify the Health Service Executive.
“The importance of paid childminders for the care of infants in Ireland is not well recognised, as much literature on childcare focuses on centre-based care, and some debates on childcare do not recognise the significance of the role of childminders,” said the report, written by Dr Frances McGinnity, senior researcher at the Economic and Social Research Institute.
“Given the importance of quality of care for child development noted in the international literature, this raises the issue of childcare qualifications for childminders.”
Meanwhile, the vast majority of relatives who parents rely upon to look after their children had no formal childcare qualification.
More information is available on the Growing Up in Ireland website.