If you are becoming a home based child carer then you must be aware of the current legislation and the role in which regulatory bodies play. If you wish to register for becoming a childminder in Northern Ireland you must do so through your local Health and Social Services Trust. A childminder must by law register with the local Health and Social Services Trust and the purpose of registration is to protect children, to provide reassurance to parents using childcare and to ensure that childminding services meet acceptable standards. To achieve registration a childminder is required to comply with standards of safety, equipment, numbers of children etc. The home environment is checked to ensure that it meets the standards required and that it is suitable to care for children. References and health checks are required as are criminal record checks on all individuals in the household over the age of 10. The Children (NI) Order 1995 states that registration should be completed within three months of receipt of the completed application form. Following on from registration, childminders are inspected annually by the Health and Social Services Trust. NICMA recognise that childminding is a professional day care service and as such, the registration process is the first step towards the provision of quality childminding. The Children (NI) Order 1995 states that a registered childminder is, "a person who looks after 1 or more children under the age of 12, for more than 2 hours per day, on domestic premises, for reward". Registered Childminders are self-employed day care providers who work in their own home to provide care and education for other people’s children within a family setting. Unlike nannies and au pairs, they are inspected and registered by Social Services on a regular basis. Registered childminders may be registered to care for up to 6 children between the ages of 0 - 12 years of age (including their own children) and only registered childminding is eligible for the childcare element of the Working Tax Credit for working parents. Outcome 1.3
When working in a childcare setting it is often inevitable to come across confidential information about children and families you are working with. Confidential information is personal information, which should not be shared with unauthorised person or organisations. It also means a childminder should never discuss a child with a friend or other parents. Most common information held by childcare practitioner are name, address, phone number, birth date, record of parent(s)’ and/or emergency contact details, the contact details of the child’s GP. All these information is to be kept confidential as individual have the right to keep information of this type private. The purpose of the Data protection Act 1998 is to regulate the use of personal information by business and organisations. In a childcare setting, childcare providers such as childminders will need to comply with the Act as they are often required to deal with and keep a large amount of information on each child. Therefore passing information to a third party without the parents’ consent is illegal. A court can prevent the disclosure of confidential information by injunction and where appreciate, award damages if unlawful disclosure has been made It is important to comply with the Data Protection principle when keeping children’s personal information that is covered by the act. The principle requires that personal information is:
* processed fairly and lawfully
* processed for one or more specified and lawful purposes, and not further processed in any way that is incompatible with the original purpose * adequate, relevant and not excessive
* accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date
* kept for no longer than is necessary for the purpose for which it is being used * processed in line with an individual's rights
* kept secure with appropriate technical and organisational...