Dept of Health running out of time to save Registered Childminders sector

As Unite seeks emergency meeting, survey confirms nearly 70% of childminders considering leaving sector

November 24th: Unite the union has written to the head of the Family Policy Unit in the Department of Health to request that they lift restrictions on Registered Childminders which are threatening to collapse the sector. 

At present, Registered Childminders are subject to a lower cap on the number of children that they can accommodate than in England, Wales or Scotland. With childminders in Northern Ireland allowed to accommodate just half the number of children permitted in England, this cap in squeezing their incomes at a time of spiralling prices.  The result is that childminders must either accept a further squeeze on their incomes, raise charges to parents or leave the sector.

Unless the Department acts, hundreds of Registered Childminders will be pushed out of the industry, with devastating consequences for childminders and their families, for other workers reliant on childcare, and for the wider economy.

A recent Unite survey of Registered Childminders found that 59 per cent of Registered Childminders were considering taking on a second job to make ends meet; nearly half are increasing their fees to cope with the cost of living crisis, 32 per cent are asking parents to provide food, and 18 per cent are reducing the days they work to help reduce overhead costs.  69 per cent are considering leaving the sector.

Unite Regional Coordinating Officer Susan Fitzgerald warns that the sector could collapse unless the Department of Health raises the caps on childminders:

“Our findings show that 69 percent – over two-thirds – of Registered Childminders surveyed by Unite are considering leaving the sector. Not only will Registered Childminders leaving the sector be forced to find alternative employment, but other working parents will find it even more difficult to access childcare.  This will have a significant impact on the wider economy,

“Childminders are the hidden cog which keeps our economy moving. If the Department of Health does not move quickly, workers – and especially women workers – will be hit by a childcare crisis while already trying to cope with a cost of living crisis.

“The Department of Health must step in now to raise the childcare caps and save the Registered Childminders sector”, Ms Fitzgerald said.

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