Tough new rules on the way for Northern Ireland childminders
Childcare providers here will have to adhere to tougher standards from early next year.
The new Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) requirements will bring childminders and day care providers into line with minimum practices already in place at Northern Ireland’s residential family centres, nursing and residential homes, domiciliary care and nursing agencies.
They will ensure greater protection for children who are looked after by childminders, day care services, pre-school sessional care, creches and out of school clubs.
Any of Northern Ireland’s current 5,248 registered providers of such services who fail to meet the new criteria risk having their registration cancelled or refused by health and social services trusts.
Health Minister Edwin Poots yesterday announced a public consultation on the draft minimum care standards for childminding and day care for children under age 12. The 64-page draft document lists 17 minimum standards focusing on quality of care, staffing, management and leadership, physical environment, monitoring and evaluation.
The minister said: “These standards mean children, parents and providers of services will be assured of the minimum level of care they can expect to receive and provide.
“These standards will reassure parents their children are well looked after and create a benchmark against which providers can measure services.”
The introduction of minimum standards of care for regulated health and social care services is a key element in the drive to raise the quality and safety of health and social care services.
“I am therefore asking for views on the content of these standards and fully encourage everyone, especially parents, to make their views known,” Mr Poots added.
The final standards will be used by health and social care trusts as part of their programme of registration and inspection of childminding and day care services to assess and report on the quality of services delivered.
A DHSSPS spokesman said: “Following the consultation period, the department plans to launch the new standards in 2012.
“Where a facility is found to not be meeting standards, trusts will work with the provider to identify and rectify problems, but under the provisions of the Children Order have the power to cancel or refuse the registration of providers who are failing to meet standards of care.”
The DHSSPS draft standards and consultation questions on minimum standards for childminding and day care for children under age 12 were developed in partnership with service users, providers and commissioners and can be accessed at www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/index/consultations/current_consultations. The consultation runs for 12 weeks from August 1 to October 24