Bernadette Orbinski Burke – Chief Executive

As the Chief Executive of Childminding Ireland I am responsible for the organisation’s day-to-day performance.  My focus is ensuring that we are all working towards our mission: to offer support to childminders, so that they can provide the best quality childcare in a home-from-home setting for the benefit of children, their families and their communities.

My role includes working to ensure that childminders and parents using their services, are supported. I also work to represent childminding interests to Government, other policy makers, the media and stakeholders. As the Board’s feet-on-the-ground, I work to make sure the Board receives appropriate information and support so that it can fulfil its governance responsibilities. It’s also my responsibility to see that the Board’s strategy is put into action.

I have been in the role since October 2013, and still really enjoy the challenge and the fact that no two weeks seem the same. Prior to joining Childminding Ireland I had experience of both large and small business. Being able to draw on skills gained in these environments has been an asset in my current role. The majority of my career has been with membership organisations internationally, such as the medical, humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) where I had the privilege of holding a senior position reporting to 2 consecutive international presidents. This has left me very conscious of the need for keeping faith while representing members and honouring the overall ethos of the organisation.  I have also worked on the other side of the coin, for the Department of Health in Edinburgh, so have some understanding of how government departments can work. All in all, I believe that my previous working experience has been helpful in moving Childminding Ireland forward and ensuring that the focus is always on childminding.

Mairead Hurley – Head of Childminding Services

My role is Head of Childminding Services which makes my focus childminders and how we support them in their work, both individually and as a group.  I work to encourage childminding engagement, ensuring that childminder voices are heard and included in decision making.  I have the privilege of listening to childminders and parents recounting their experiences and concerns. I then try my utmost to carry those voices with me and our team, to inform our content writing and any organisational decisions we make.

Being so immersed in the needs of both childminders and parents leaves me very well placed to work closely with Bernadette on report writing and accounting requirements.

I am also responsible for IT software and issues along with management of data quality.  I work to develop membership processes and business supports.  I contribute to content for Outreach and Marketing, including campaigns, E-newsletters, and Website updates. In addition, I provide technical assistance in relation to IT and phone systems.

As a team we constantly work to come up with new innovative ways to support and promote childminding.

Without a doubt, the most important qualification I have for this role is that I am a former childminder. This leaves me perfectly placed to understand and respond to both childminders and parents who contact us for advice.  I have worked with Childminding Ireland since 2012.   I have previously studied and worked in business, childcare and more recently studied Transformative Leadership through Maynooth University.

I have a natural love of childminding and all the benefits it brings to children and their families.  I believe childminding creates intrinsic connections between families which spreads, to strengthen and deepen communities throughout Ireland. 

Bernie Byrne – Childminding Engagement Support Officer

My role as childminder Engagement Support officer allows me to communicate with all childminders throughout Ireland, offering advice in setting up their childminding business and guiding them through the process. 

I have 30 years experience in childcare, qualifying initially in Montessori teaching and operating my Preschool in my home for 10 years which was a great opportunity to raise my own children and be at home. 

I continued my love for childcare and completed Level 6 in Childcare Development and worked outside the home in many centre based preschools. Then I decided to come back home as a childminder to three lovely children for five years.

This experience has led me to Childminding Ireland and I feel I understand the needs of childminders and assure them that Childminding Ireland are their voice and we are happy to be their sounding board for all their supportive needs.

I am now on my next chapter in childcare caring. When I can, I mind my precious grandson Harry.

Lara Hughes – Head of Outreach and Marketing

I work to communicate and reach as many childminders & parents using childminders as is possible to keep them up-to-date about the changes in the childminding sector and about topics and areas of interest and relevance to them.

I develop and manage Childminding Ireland’s marketing and digital activities and channels as well as the website. I constantly review and adapt our activities so that they meet our objectives and take account of any external developments. I always enjoy interviewing childminders for our enewsletter as I get a great insight into the wonderful work they do. One of the highlights in my calendar every year is that I run the Childminding Ireland Art Competition.

I have qualifications in business, digital marketing and education.  I have worked with Childminding Ireland since 2013. Previous to this I worked in large multinationals in a number of senior marketing roles and also worked as a teacher and lecturer of business and marketing. 

I feel that being the mum of three lovely girls helps me also view the childminding question from the point of view of a parent who might come to us for assistance.  I admire the work that childminders do – it is such an important role for families and the wider community.

Mary Tynan – Head of Training & Development

As Head of Training and Development, my primary role is to manage the learning and professional development of childminders. In order to meet Childminding Ireland’s objective of quality assured childminding, I am responsible for assessing the training needs of childminders. I create recommendations for new programmes that will provide childminders with opportunities to develop new knowledge and skills. 

I engage with childminders and parents who use the services of childminders on a daily basis, a role that I particularly enjoy as I love the social connection. I share information with them which I have selected and evaluated, checking it for quality, relevance and usefulness. Creating and sourcing engaging and appropriate social media posts for Childminding Ireland’s Facebook page in addition to writing articles for our e-newsletter is something that I have come to really enjoy.

Prior to joining Childminding Ireland in 2017 I managed a well-established Travel Agency business for twenty years which has equipped me with an abundance of skills that support me in my role with Childminding Ireland. I am qualified in business and human resource management and am currently completing a QQI Level 5 Early Childhood Care and Education course. 

As a working parent, I chose a childminder to care for my now two adult children. This experience has helped me to recognise the unique role childminders play in children’s lives. My children had the opportunity to learn valuable life skills from real-life experiences and everlasting friendships were formed between our families.  I appreciate the value childminders bring to our community and with my experience to date, I aim to support childminders to continue their invaluable service.