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DOI: 10.1080/1350293X.2019.1678716

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This item is available under a Creative Commons License for non-commercial use only


Family studies


ABSTRACT In light of rapid changes in the early years sector in Ireland since 2000, questions arise about the professionalism of childminders (family day carers), the vast majority of whom are exempt from regulation. Fewer than 0.1% (<120) of childminders are registered with Tusla, the national regulator, despite the National Childminding Initiative, (NCMI) which has promoted professional, high quality childminding. To investigate current attitudes to NCMI’s process of professionalisation (Brannen and Moss [2003]), among childminders and parents, a cross-sectional study was designed using a mixedmethod approach. Specifically an anonymous online survey was conducted with 325 participants, followed by a qualitative World Café forum for 40 members of Childminding Ireland, the national childminding body. Findings from both phases of research revealed many of these childminders were well-qualified and engaged, with a sense of professional identity, seeking a distinctive approach to support childminding. Moreover, both childminder and parent participants value the distinctive characteristics of childminding – close relationships, a nurturing pedagogy, a rich, home environment – to a greater extent than markers of professionalism. These findings call for an innovative approach to childminding in Ireland, one that facilitates an organic development of agentic, professional childminding as part of a competent ECEC system.