The Northern Ireland Child Minding Association (NICMA) is one of five organisations taking part in the Social Innovation Skills Programme funded by the Building Change Trust and delivered by WorkWest and Enterprise North West.
NICMA is a voluntary organisation with charitable status providing a range of services which support registered childminders, parents, children and stakeholders within the childminding sector.
It has pointed out that findings from the Childcare Research Final Report (OFMDFM, 2014) clearly highlight that there is a need for more childminding services across Northern Ireland.
Findings from the Employers for Childcare: Choosing Childcare in Northern Ireland – Experiences of Local Parents (2016) research has also highlighted this problem and states that 705 (14.9%) parents stated there is a lack of childminding services in Northern Ireland.
It is trying to overcome the challenge of accessing parents to establish the type of childminding service they need and also find out the views of registered childminders on the development of a community childminding network.
Susan Anderson, NICMA’s Training Manager, said: “The “Community Childminding Network” would aim to develop and promote new and existing childminding provision throughout Northern Ireland in areas that have been identified as lacking the childminding service demand. The project will support the development, educational attainment and life chances of children cared for in childminding settings as well as helping to meet the unmet childcare need of parents.”
NICMA plans to hold discussions with parents to find out their requirements to see if the development of a network of new and existing childminders would alleviate some of their problems. It then intends to apply for funding to run a pilot project on development of two community childminding networks in Counties Down and Antrim.
NICMA will join four other organisations in the Social Innovation Skills Programme.
Work West and Enterprise North West are delivering an intensive training and mentoring programme to equip the organisations with problem solving skills. The teams will then be brought together for a full day Social Innovators Mentoring session to refine and evaluate their ideas, and identify next steps.
Once the programme is completed, all teams can apply for a Social Innovation NI seed fund worth up to £20K to enable them to transform their ideas into reality.