Hanafin announces review of child care (pre-school services)regulations
Minister for Children, Ms Mary Hanafin T.D. has today (Saturday, October 6, 2001) announced that a review of the Child Care (Pre-School Services) Regulations, 1996 is to commence. Ms Hanafin was speaking at the opening of the Autumn Conference of the National Children´s Nurseries Association.
Minister Hanafin said that the introduction of these regulations, which were signed into law in December 1996, had been, in many ways, a big step forward – being the first time that statutory controls were applied to this sector.
“The providers of child care places, who worked in a previously unregulated area, faced the challenge of meeting standards which could have cost implications for them. The health boards faced new challenges in terms of procedures, management and administration. Parents also had concerns about the effect that this would have on the supply of places,” the Minister said.
“I am confident that the implementation of the regulations has made a significant contribution so far to the development of a better quality of childcare for our pre-school children,” said the Minister. “I commend all those who have co-operated and worked hard to make sure that this has happened,” she added.
“It is now time to look again at the regulations in terms of what has worked well and in terms of aspects which need to be strengthened or addressed and in the context of the new developments including the availability of substantial funding for childcare. Accordingly, I am pleased to announce that a review of the regulations will commence shortly,” said the Minister.
Membership of the Review Group will comprise:
- Health board representatives – including management and pre-school inspectors and Environmental Health Officers;
- Representatives from the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, (who have the lead role in the implementation of the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme); Dept. of Education and Science (who have published the White Paper on Early Childhood Education); and Dept. of the Environment and Local Government (who have the lead role in relation to Planning Regulations and Guidelines and Fire Safety);
- Representative from the National Children´s Office;
- Representation from the National Voluntary Childcare Organisations;
- Parent representative.
“Nominations to the Review Group are being invited, and the review process is expected to take up to a year to complete,” Minister Hanafin added.
Minister Hanafin stressed the Government´s commitment to childcare, identifying it as a priority area for investment in the National Development Plan 2000-2006, and particularly by providing a sustained level of investment under the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme, which supports the childcare sector.
“This Programme, announced in April 2000, now has an overall budget of £344 million (€437m) for childcare service delivery in the period 2000-2006. Since July 2000, the Government has approved the allocation of over £67million (€85m) in grants to over 700 projects throughout the country. The funding allocated will lead to the establishment of over 9,000 new childcare places and will support the maintenance of a further 12,000 existing childcare places. In all, 21,000 childcare places will be supported by the provision of this Government funding”, concluded Minister Mary Hanafin T.D.