Press Release

Minister for Children presents NCNA Centre of Excellence Awards to 16 Childcare Services

Mr. Brian Lenihan T.D., Minister for Children today opened the annual conference of the National Children’s Nursery Association (NCNA) entitled “Children – the centre of daycare”. The NCNA is one of the seven National Voluntary Childcare Organisations funded under the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme (EOCP) 2000 – 2006 and is one of Ireland’s leading childcare organisations.

In his opening speech the Minister commended the NCNA on its commitment to providing support, advice, training and mentoring for its 600 members, which includes owners and managers of crèches and those involved in training of childcare workers.

At a special ceremony, the Minister also presented the NCNA’s Centre of Excellence Awards to sixteen childcare services. He thanked the NCNA and its members for their dedication to high quality standards in the Early Childhood Care and Education sector and congratulated the recipients of the awards, which included a mixture of urban and rural and private and community based providers.

The EOCP funded services presented with awards included three in Cork City – Wallaroo Playschool, An Cliabhain in Ballyphehane/Togher, and Gobnait Burke Playgroup; Humpty’s House, Waterford; and Grovelands Childcare, Ballymahon, Athlone. Other government funded services included the Civil Service Chatterboxes crèches in Athlone and Celbridge; and the Grovelands crèches in Tullamore and Athlone IDA Technology Parks. Other services receiving Awards were Bright Horizons, Swords; the EU Commission, Meath; Tír na nÓg, Athy; Kanga Kare, Arklow; Horizons Montessori, Cork City; The Toddler Inn, Dublin 7; and Daisychain, Leopardstown, Dublin.

The prestigious Centre of Excellence Awards are available to childcare providers who are committed to raising standards and providing quality services. They are assessed under various criteria including activities and programmes for children; relationships in the nursery; partnerships with families; health, safety and hygiene; staff conditions and professional development; physical environment; food and nutrition; management and administration; implementation of policies and procedures, and evaluation and review of the nursery. The Awards were launched in 2002 and will be rolled out on an All-Ireland basis in 2007 in co-operation with the Northern Ireland Pre-school and Play-school Association. To date 42 services have qualified for the Awards since they were introduced.

Minister Lenihan also referred to the Government’s clear commitment to childcare under the new €575 million National Childcare Investment Programme, announced in Budget 2006. Ambitious targets have been set for the next five years, not just in terms of additional childcare places, but also in terms of the specific needs for pre-school services, school age childcare and wrap around services for children and parents. Last week, the Minister announced almost €11 million in capital grant assistance and over €1 million in staffing grant assistance to childcare providers. He emphasised his commitment to ensuring that the targets set are met in a way which takes account of the specific needs of parents and their children.

Minister Lenihan concluded by congratulating the staff of the sixteen services receiving the Centre of Excellence Awards and said that he looked forward to seeing the Awards rolled out on an All-Ireland basis in 2007.