Press Release

Minister for Children signs the Child Care (Pre-School Services) Regulations 2006

Mr Brian Lenihan TD Minister for Children today announced that he has signed the Child Care (Pre-School Services) Regulations 2006. The Regulations which revoke the current Child Care (Pre-School Services) Regulations 1996 and (Amendment) Regulations 1997 will come into operation on 2nd January 2007.

The Minister said that he is announcing the Regulations now as he wishes to give the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the pre-school service providers some time to prepare by way of training, information sessions and any necessary changes to practice for the introduction of the revised Regulations. An updated and enhanced Explanatory Guide will accompany the revised Regulations.

The Minister said that “ the revised Regulations were drawn up by a Review Group led by the Department of Health and Children and including representatives of other relevant Government Departments, the Health Service Executive and the National Voluntary Childcare organisations and the Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education. A wider consultation was also undertaken and informed the Review. While the review Group completed its meetings some time ago there were a number of technical and legal issues which had to be worked on since then.” he said.

The main amendments to the Regulations are:

  • an expansion of the Regulation on Child Development which requires the service provider to ensure that each child’s learning, development and well being is facilitated within the daily life of the service.

“This is an amendment which had widespread support during the Review process” said the Minister

  • the introduction of a part-time day care service

Minister Lenihan said that “This will allow providers to operate a service for up to 5 hours. Currently a service of more than 3.5 hours per day must meet all the requirements of a full day care service. Part-time day care services will facilitate parents who wish to work or study or train for 3 or 3.5 hours a day and who need childcare services which facilitate them in terms of the time taken to travel to and from work or study.

  • the inclusion of a requirement that all staff, students and volunteers in the service will be appropriately vetted once procedures are in place to facilitate this

“With the expansion of the Garda Central Vetting Unit and its decentralisation to Thurles, now that I have signed the revised regulations, in line with the current phased expansion of Garda Vetting, work is underway to extend vetting to staff, students and volunteers working in the pre-school sector. Garda vetting, is of course only one aspect of an appropriate vet – references from previous employers carefully validated by prospective employers are also an essential safeguard in this process “ said the Minister.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Health Service Executive pre-school inspectors, the service providers and the National Voluntary Childcare Organisations for their tremendous work in recent years in building up our pre-school services to a quality standard. The implementation of these revised regulations will further build on this process. The Government has invested very significant funding in childcare since 2000 and it is important that the services provided are of a quality standard for our young children.” he said.

The Minister emphasised the importance of co-operation between all involved in implementing the Regulations and the importance of parents being aware of the new requirements.

The Minister added that “The implementation of the Regulations is a key component in the overall implementation of the related commitments contained in ‘Towards 2016 – Ten Year Framework Social Partnership Agreement 2006-2015’. As well as the publication of these new Regulations these commitments include:

  • training of pre-school staff to ensure uniformity of inspection across the HSE
  • establishing improved administrative systems to facilitate a national standardised inspection service and
  • ensuring that standardised inspection reports are publicly available.

Minister Lenihan will officially launch the Child Care (Pre-School Services) Regulations 2006 in the coming weeks.

In a complimentary initiative, the Office of the Minister for Children will in the coming weeks publish a set of National Guidelines for Childminders which has been developed by the National Childcare Coordinating Committee in conjunction with the Office. The Guidelines are intended to provide a source of information and advice to persons working as Childminders across a range of issues of particular relevance to this sector. This will include information and advice on how they may be affected by these revised Pre-School Regulations and, in the case of Childminders outside the scope of the Regulations, information and advice on the benefits of the voluntary notification system operated by the City and County Childcare Committees.

See the Statutory Instrument