A career in early years care in Northern Ireland

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1 A career in early years care in Northern Ireland Do you enjoy working with children and young people? Have you lots of energy and commitment? Can you listen, empathise, and support? Are you sensitive, patient and understanding? Yes?...then early years care could be the career for you!

2 Contents Page What is early years care? 3 Why choose early years care? 4 Job opportunities in early years care 5 Working in a crèche/day care nursery 7 Working in a pre-school/play group 8 Working in an out of school setting 9 Working in registered childminding 10 Getting started in early years care 12 Further advice about qualifications and training 15 Finding a job 19 Northern Ireland Social Care Council What we do 20 Contact Enquiries Team Northern Ireland Social Care Council 7th Floor Millennium House Great Victoria Street Belfast BT2 7AQ Tel: Web: NISCC December 2012

3 What is early years care? Childcare and early years workers provide care, education and support for children from birth to 12 years in registered settings. They work with children who have a range of abilities and needs, providing learning and play opportunities. Care can be provided in a variety of settings including nurseries, pre-school facilities, school aged childcare settings, in a childminder s own home and in crèches. Quality childcare and early years provision can help children achieve their full potential, can support parents and families and is important for children, helping them develop valuable skills for education and life. 3

4 Why choose early years care? Early years care is often demanding, but it is very rewarding. It requires a range of personal qualities such as; an enthusiasm for working with children, an interest in their development, welfare and education and the ability to help children acquire skills, use their imagination and be creative. You need to have a sense of humour and be able to deal calmly and firmly with difficult behaviour. You need to have excellent communication and interpersonal skills, be able to support children s personal rights, dignity and privacy, as well as working effectively with parents to benefit their child s development. You also need to be able to engage in play. If you have these qualities and want to do something worthwhile, then early years care is the career for you. 4

5 Job opportunities in early years care? The demand for high quality childcare for all young children is increasing. Almost every three and four year old in Northern Ireland is now receiving some sort of preschool education - valuable learning, which research shows enables learning in later life. Currently there are over 9,000 childcare and early years professionals working in the statutory, voluntary and private sectors in Northern Ireland 1. Working in this sector offers the chance to enter a flexible career with a wide range of work roles to choose from such as; Day Nurseries/Day Care Crèches Nursery School Pre-school Sessional Care/Play Groups Out of School Groups/Centres & School Aged Childcare Childminding/Home Based Childcare You should be able to find a job that suits your own circumstances, stage of life and work experience. You can work full-time or parttime to suit your family or other commitments. Whatever area of the workforce you choose, you will be doing a job that makes a difference to the quality of life for children, young people and their families. 1 Sector Skills Agreement for Social Care, Children & Younger Peoples Workforce in NI, Feb. 2010, SfCD. 5

6 Day Care/Childcare Worker Pre-school Worker/Playworker Nursery Assistant/ Nursery Nurse Pre-school/Toddler Unit Leader Nursery Room Leader Baby Room Supervisor Day Care Supervisor/ Leader Manager/Facility Owner Registered Child Minder Early Years Specialist Throughout their career, early years care workers can undertake work-based vocational and professional qualifications and go on to do parttime or full-time degrees. Additional short-term courses are provided by local Childcare Partnerships (see page 16). With appropriate training and qualifications staff can become supervisors, managers, open their own business or become Early Years Specialists. Read on to find out more about working in early years care, and the experience and qualifications required. 6

7 Working in a crèche or day care nursery Day nurseries and crèches provide care, play and educational opportunities in a safe environment for babies and toddlers, normally up to school starting age. These are usually privately owned, but can be community run or provided by an employer and operate on a fee paying basis. Crèches can operate all day providing flexible short-term care for children for up to 4 hours at any one time. Day care nurseries offer reliable long term childcare for working parents on a full-time or part-time basis. Some nurseries also offer funded pre-school places as part of the Pre-School Education Expansion Programme (PSEEP) and after-school services, with older children being collected from school and supervised until the parents finish work or training. Most day care nurseries also provide summer schemes as a means of supporting parents during the school summer holidays. There are minimum standards laid down for providing care in all childcare settings. Staff are also required to have appropriate early years qualifications or be working towards them. See the DHSSPSNI Childminding and Day Care for Children under age 12: Minimum Standards, July 2012 or contact the Early Years organisation for more information (see page 15). Day nurseries and crèches must be registered and inspected by the local Health and Social Care Trust (HSCT) to ensure standards are being met and where they offer PSEEP places they must also be inspected by the Department of Education. 7

8 Working in a pre-school/play group Pre-school/play groups normally offer sessional care to children aged three to compulsory school age. Many groups operate under the Pre-School Education Expansion Programme (PSEEP) providing funded places for children in their final pre-school year. Pre-school/ play groups usually operate during school term only. Pre-school/play groups provide an opportunity for children of a similar age group to meet and access a wide range of activities, equipment and play materials. There are opportunities to acquire and develop skills by learning through play. Children are looked after by qualified and trained early years professionals. These groups must be registered and inspected by the local HSCT and the Department of Education (where they offer PSEEP places) and have adequate staff to child ratios. 8

9 Working in an out of school setting An out of school setting offers seasonal care for children of school age. Providers care for these children outside normal school hours. This can be before and after school and all day during the school holidays and enables parents to take up employment, education and training opportunities. Some services open up before school and are called breakfast clubs. These school age child care settings provide a caring environment and offer a range of active, stimulating and restful play activities for children. Reflecting the needs of the developing child, school age childcare settings are underpinned by a strong focus on play. This play work approach is used to facilitate and support children s play experiences and opportunities. There are minimum standards laid down for providing care in an after schools setting. This includes qualifications for those working in this setting. See the DHSSPSNI Childminding and Day Care for Children under age 12: Minimum Standards, July 2012 on page 14 for more information. 9

10 Working in registered childminding Registered childminding is the largest form of registered day care and education provision for children aged 0-12 years in Northern Ireland. There are approximately 4,000 registered childminders providing more than 19,000 places for pre-school and after school children. This represents 63% of full time day care places and 37% of all childcare places. 2 A registered childminder looks after 1 or more children under the age of 12 in their own home. They are self employed and negotiate fees and terms of service directly with the children s parents. Registered childminders hold a very responsible job often working long hours on their own to provide parents with flexible, affordable and quality day care. This care can be offered on a part-time or full-time basis depending on the parents and children s needs. The care childminders provide supports the effective learning of children, offering them the opportunity to receive individual attention in a family setting. 2 Promoting Accessible Rural Childminding (NICMA), Jan

11 Registration In Northern Ireland, a childminder must be registered with the local HSCT if they are paid to look after children to whom they are not related to for more than two hours per day. Annual inspections are carried out by the HSCT on both the home and childminder. This is to ensure that the childminder is suitable to care for babies and young children, has adequate insurance cover and appropriate safety equipment in their home. In addition, all adults living in the childminder s home must undergo a criminal records check. Training While there are no mandatory requirements for registered childminders in Northern Ireland to undertake formal training, it is recommended that individuals obtain a relevant childcare qualification (see page 13 for details) or avail of training provided by organisations such as the NI Childminding Association (NICMA) and Trust-based Local Area Childcare Partnerships (see page 15 and 16 for contact details). Childminders are encouraged and supported by the NICMA to undertake relevant training in areas such as: Child protection, managing children s behaviour, health and safety and child development which is now required in the DHSSPSNI Minimum Standards. Some of the local HSCT require individuals who want to become childminders to undertake mandatory pre-registration training. This training can include; information about the process of registration, information about NICMA membership, business management and play based learning. More information can be obtained by contacting the HSCT directly. Getting started To become a registered childminder, you should contact your local Early Years Team. These are specialist teams of social workers within the HSCT who are responsible for the registration, inspection, monitoring and support of childminders and day care providers. Contact details can be obtained from the NISCC Social Care Contacts booklet. 11

12 Getting started in early years care There are many opportunities within this sector, and different options for entry into a career in early years care. Individuals entering the sector can be school leavers, volunteers and those returning to work or changing their career. Experience If you are considering a career in early years care, gaining experience and knowledge of what the work would involve is a good place to start. This would enhance your job prospects and offer you the opportunity to find out if working with children would be for you. For example you could be working with children with complex needs and varying abilities every day. Your environment will often be noisy and require you to undertake physical activities. Therefore, being fit and in good health would be an advantage for anyone planning a career in this sector. 12

13 Relevant qualifications Early years care workers are encouraged to obtain relevant vocational qualifications such as; Children s Care Learning & Development (CCLD) at Level 2, 3 and 5 and Playwork at Levels 2, 3 and 5 depending on the job role and level of responsibility. Vocational qualifications specify the tasks and skills required of early years care workers at specific levels of responsibility and all newly appointed staff should be appropriately qualified or working towards an appropriate qualification. (See DHSSPSNI Minimum Standards, Standard II, July 2012.) Since 1st January 2011, all qualifications for the sector have been based on the Qualification and Credit Framework (QCF). For people who were undertaking or have already undertaken National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) in Childcare and Early Years 3, these qualifications continue to be recognised. For more information about QCF qualifications, go to the NISCC website at info (workforce development section). For early years workers who choose to work exclusively in developing play, a Playwork qualification would be recommended. For more information about Playwork, see page 16. For those wishing to become a registered childminder, undertaking a relevant vocational qualification such as; the CCLD Level 2 would be highly recommended. See the NICMA contact details on page 15 for more information about training for registered childminders. A child care qualification would also allow one to work as a classroom assistant or in a Sure Start project. For more information on qualifications, you can contact the Early Years Organisation (see page 15 for contact details). 3 NVQs in Childcare and Early Years or equivalent were the recognised professional qualification for childcare and early years workers in NI before the QCF were introduced. 13

14 Apprenticeships NI Apprenticeships are available in Early Years Care and Education. The NI Apprenticeship Programme, which is funded by the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL), supports entry for candidates under 25. Potential apprentices must be in paid employment and supported by their employers in order to apply. Successful completion leads to a QCF Diploma in CCLD or Playwork at Level 2 and 3. Due to the changes to vocational qualifications (see previous page), the NVQ has been replaced by a QCF qualifications at level 2 and 3. For those who have already obtained NVQs, these qualifications will continue to be recognised. More information on apprenticeships for employers or employees is available from DEL (NI) at website: Department of Health, Social Services & Public Safety in NI (DHSSPSNI) The DHSSPSNI Minimum Standards for Childminding and Day Care for Children Under age 12 outline the qualifications required for different job roles. For more information about these standards or to request a copy of the standards you can contact the DHSSPS at website: 14

15 Further advice about qualifications and training The Early Years Organisation The Early Years Organisation provides information on a range of programmes and services for playgroups and day care staff, parents and those working with children. For more information about their services and training, you can contact them at Website: Tel: NICMA The Childminding Association For more information about registered childminding you can contact the NICMA at Website: Tel: The Home Childcarer Approval Scheme Home childcare is another form of approved childcare introduced by the government. The Home Childcarer Approval Scheme enables parents to employ a childcarer in their own home who is suitably qualified and checked to work with children. For more information about this form of childcare, or working as a Home Childcarer, contact the Northern Ireland Childminding Association (NICMA). 15

16 Northern Ireland Childcare Partnerships The partnerships provide mandatory training courses to allow the sector to remain up-to-date to meet their registration and inspection requirements in relation to; Safeguarding and Child Protection, First Aid, Food Safety and Health and Safety. They also provide short term courses relating to various areas of child development and provide information and advice to anyone wanting to work or train as a childcare or early years worker. More information about the partnerships is available at; Playwork Playwork is the profession that facilitates children s play. Playworkers work with school aged children in out of school settings such as; after school clubs, community based play centres and summer schemes. Playwork is covered by SkillsActive, the Sector Skills Council for the Active Leisure and Learning Sector. For more information on working in this sector contact SkillsActive at Website: 16

17 PlayBoard PlayBoard is the lead agency for the development of children s and young people s play in Northern Ireland. For more information on their services and training contact PlayBoard at Website: Tel: Careers Services for NI If you are still at school, and are interested in a career in early years care, talk to your school careers teacher. Alternatively you can contact your local careers service office, located at your Jobs & Benefits Office for careers advice. To locate your nearest Careers Office you can contact the Careers Service directly at or by going to their website at: www. nidirect.gov.uk/careers. Contact details are also available in the NISCC Social Care Contacts booklet. 17

18 Colleges of Further & Higher Education (F&HE) For more information about childcare and early years courses, contact your local college. Most colleges hold information days where potential students can obtain information and advice on all full and part-time courses offered and get the opportunity to speak to tutors and careers staff. See the NISCC Social Care Contacts booklet for contacts details of the colleges. Educational Guidance Service for Adults (EGSA) If you are an adult intending to return to education and seeking advice on what to do next, you can contact your local EGSA office at Website: Tel: Other Useful Websites Child Care Choices: Children in Northern (CiNI): Sure Start Partnerships: sure-start-services or 18

19 Finding a job Jobs in the early years care sector can be found by searching your local and regional newspapers for example; the Belfast Telegraph (Tuesday/Friday) the Irish News (Thursday) the Newsletter (Thursday) The regional newspapers are accessible online at the following websites; Belfast Telegraph: Northern Ireland Jobs: HSC Jobs: Or you can go to your job centre. Vacancies placed at the Jobcentres can be accessed online through the Department of Employment and Learning (DEL) website as follows; You should also check with organisations such as; the Early Years Organisation (see page 15), Employers for Childcare (see below), Sure Start Partnerships (see page 18) and local child care providers for any vacancies. For more information about Employers for Childcare go to their website at: To contact local childcare organisations/providers or voluntary/ community agencies specialising in early years care look in your local telephone directory or log onto the online yellow pages service at: 19

20 Northern Ireland Social Care Council What we do NISCC as a Sector Skills Council NISCC is a partner in Skills for Care and Development (SfC&D), the Sector Skills Council responsible for training and development of the social care and children s services workforce. NISCC as a Regulator NISCC is the regulatory body for the social care workforce and is responsible for setting standards for their conduct, training and practice. The early years care workforce is not a NISCC registered workforce, although there are regulations and guidance in place concerning staff ratios and other aspects of good practice and all childcare facilities are regulated and inspected by the HSCT or the Department of Education on a regular basis. All staff employed to work with children and young people must have their criminal record checked before they start their employment. This is to ensure that staff are suitable to work with children and young people. There is clear evidence, that good quality, appropriate care in their earliest years has long term benefits for children s physical, social and intellectual development. Children First: The NI Childcare Strategy (1999) Produced by: Northern Ireland Social Care Council 7th Floor Millennium House Great Victoria Street Belfast BT2 7AQ NISCC December 2012

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