A Registered Childminder has spoken about the lack of support they have received throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and how they feel like a “forgotten part of the childcare sector”.

Caroline Rice, who has been working to get registered childminders professionally recognised and has been working closely with other registered childminders during the coronavirus pandemic to make sure their voice is heard believes that despite the removal of the key worker lists, they do not go far enough and that many will have to leave the sector due to loss of business.

From June 15, there were no restrictions on daycare and school age childcare setting in terms of a minimum or maximum number of children they could provide a service to.

However from June 29 for Registered Childminders, who use their own homes, they are currently only allowed to provide childcare to four families in their home at one time.

The number of families a childminder can provide childcare for will rise to five families in August, subject to medical and scientific advice, it is expected that childminders will be working to full capacity from September 2020 and will be subject to parental demand for their services.

“Throughout Covid, Registered Childminders have been impacted both financially and emotionally,” said Caroline. “Imposing the DOH key family list onto providers meant many were forced to close their doors to families who still needed their regular childcare for their children. Also restricting the amount of families we could care for left us with no alternative but to choose between families, leaving us and the working parents in a very precarious position.

“The Executive removed all the lists so all working parents could access childcare, whilst removing all restrictions that were currently in place from all childcare settings except Registered Childminders. Again, this put Registered Childminders in the position that they had to turn their families away and refuse care.

“Registered Childminders are currently capped to four families with a maximum of six children in total a day. This is not enabling Registered Childminders to offer the care to all their families on their books and again parents are having to seek alternatives, their choice of a home from home environment has once again been taken away from them.

“Registered Childminders are currently feeling very undervalued and a forgotten part of the childcare sector whilst focus is placed on the bigger businesses.

“Many Registered Childminders have had to seek alternative employment or rely on their partners income to support them through Covid, many will likely be unable to return to the sector due to the loss of families,” added Caroline.

Registered Childminders can find out more information by contacting Unite the union Childminder’s branch at keith.murdiff@unitetheunion.org and also the The Northern Ireland Childminding Association.