Barbara Quinn, training manager of the Northern Ireland Childminding Association (NICMA):
'Here at NICMA we know the main barriers to learning and development for childminders are cost and time. We aim to address these issues within our training strategy.
'There has been increased demand from childminders for training and many in Northern Ireland are using the Training and Employment Agency's Bursary scheme to assist them to achieve an NVQ award. But the bursary only goes a small way towards the cost of an NVQ award and childminders who are on a low income already are struggling to find the balance.
'This year the range of NICMA training available to registered childminders has resulted in more than 1,700 individuals accessing training and/or qualifications. We have also delivered our Introduction to Childminding course on behalf of Trusts Province-wide. The feedback has been very positive and now one trust purchases all its pre-registration training from us. Although they may struggle to find the funding, they feel, however, that this training enables those registering as childminders to understand the role, responsibilities and skills required to do the job.
'We are also continuing to lobby various agencies and Government departments for funding to enable our home-based childcare workers to access relevant, accessible and affordable quality training.'