A profession in transition: childminding in Ireland

O'Regan, M. (2023) A profession in transition: childminding in Ireland. Norland Educare Research Journal, 1 (1): 7. pp. 1-17. ISSN 2976-7199


Currently, childminding (family childcare/day care) in Ireland remains predominantly informal childcare, outside regulation, with little support and no formal competence requirements for the profession. However, the new National Action Plan for Childminding (2021–2028) lays out a pathway towards regulation, support and subsidies for all paid, non-relative childminders. This article draws on recent doctoral research, which outlines the practices and professionalism of paid childminders with a view to informing upcoming changes. The research was conducted primarily within the framework of ecocultural theory. A pragmatic, mixed-method approach was adopted. Following an initial online survey (n = 325) and a world cafe forum (n = 40), semi-structured interviews (n = 17) were conducted using the Ecocultural Family Interview for Childminders. Findings revealed two significant cultural models of practice and pedagogy: the Close Relationship model and the Real-Life Learning model. In addition, a distinctive understanding of professionalism and a shared professional code of practice were found among childminders. In conclusion, childminders in the study rejected an imposed professionalism in favour of a consultative approach sensitive to the agency of self-employed childminders. In developing professional 21st-century childminding, Ireland must develop a regulatory system specific to Irish childminding.

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