Derry childminder Teresa McKeever has urged more people to consider the job after a huge decrease in registered day care specialists locally.
Ms. McKeever spoke out after the number of registered childminders fell from 580 in March 2015 to 504 in March 2019 in the Western Trust.
According to the Northern Ireland Childminding Association (NICMA) this represented a decrease of 12 per cent and a reduction of 456 day care places in the Western Trust area.
NICMA recently hosted a festive ‘Bake Off’ in the Little Hands SureStart Children’s Centre at Rosemount Primary School.
It was part of a wider campaign to reinforce the importance of parents using a registered childminder to care for their children.
Ms. McKeever is just one of those registered in the Derry area and she encouraged people to sign up.
She said: “I love childminding. I’ve been doing the job for less than a year, although I have been involved in the childcare sector for over 30 years.
“Every day I have a real sense of job satisfaction. You can really see children grow, develop and learn.
“Childminding plays a transformative role in children’s lives.
“The training, checks and visits are critical to keep the children safe and it’s only what you would expect, if you were leaving your child with someone to ensure peace of mind.
“As a registered childminder, I am professional in my approach and I am committed to continuous personal development and training.
“I would encourage others to consider childminding as a career.
“It is so rewarding and the flexibility it offers means you can choose how many hours you wish to work every week.”
Worryingly NICMA’s State of the Sector Report (2017) found that 37 per cent of respondents stated that they knew an unregistered childminder operating in their area and 55 per cent of all respondents believed that unregistered childminders undermined the childminding profession.
NICMA chief executive Patricia Lewsley-Mooney said: “It is important that parents think about their choice of childminder.
“We know that parents ultimately want to keep their children safe, and some parents will feel that they have a choice to make between using a registered childminder or an unregistered childminder. However, quite simply there is no choice.
“The law is very clear, anybody looking after children for more than two hours a day, for reward, must register with the Health and Social Care Trust.”