Big thank you from

Fiona Clendinning

Fiona Clendinning

Fiona Clendinning is a Childminding Development Officer for NICMA, the Northern Ireland Childminding Association, which works to support and develop registered home-based childcare. She joined NICMA in July 2008 and covers the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust area. Her post is funded through the Early Years Development Fund which is managed by the Eastern Childcare Partnership.

The mother of one who lives with her husband William and son Daniel, began working for NICMA after working with children for 11 years- Like many mothers, she was unhappy about returning to work after her son was born. She was then was asked to look after a friend's children so she completed the registration process, joined NICMA and began working as a childminder. This was followed by a few years working in Family Support and in the private Childcare sector, during which time she completed a BA Honours Degree in Education through Worcester University.

I work 25 hours a week and am home based. Ifs difficult to pin down what a typical day is, as my job is so varied, but I will usually begin the day at about 8.30am by sitting down at my desk with a cup of coffee and answering any missed calls or emails. If I have no meetings or events to attend I will catch up on administration or contact people who are going through the registration process or are newly registered as part of my mentoring scheme, to answer any questions or sort out any problems they might be having. Alternatively, I might man an information stand at a local event or meet with someone from the voluntary or statutory sector to discuss working together to promote childminding and to represent childminders.

My role is to promote quality home based childcare and learning for the benefit of children, families and communities. I am trying to Increase childminding provision, identify areas that need childminders and devise a recruitment and publicity campaign - giving out information packs, setting information events, highlighting local childminding services and achievements in the local press. I also promote the benefits of registration to address the issue of unregistered childminding and provide support services for childminders and promoting the benefits of NICMA membership.

I represent child- minding in the community by attending conferences and seminars to increase the professional status of registered childminders. Lunch is usually eaten on the go between appointments. Afternoons might entail attending a conference or information event, to keep childminders informed about what is happening in the childcare sector. Evening work usually involves attending a local childminding Support Group. There are a network of Childminding Support Groups affiliated to NICMA . The groups exist to provide a support network to childminders who work in isolation and offer a range of activities including Social Activities, training, guest Speakers and Support, advice and sharing of information. Three groups meet in the Lisburn area, at Ballinderry, Lisburn and Colin Glen. The groups are run by the childminders themselves and are a great way for childminders to share information and support each other. I will attend to pass on any news I have about what is happening in the sector, give the childminders an update on NICMA services, and answer any questions they have. As you can see my role is very busy and varied and it is sometimes difficult to fit it all into a 25 hour week. However it is never boring and I really benefit from the flexibility of the hours, which allow me to fit in home and family commitments.

For more information about Registered Childminding, please contact Fiona on tel: 07837734825 Or the N1CMA office 0871 200 2063

Ulster Star