Press Release

Minister Hanafin launches new survey on childcare

Minister for Children, Mary Hanafin T.D., has today (Tuesday, July 3, 2001) launched the Labour Force 2001 -Childcare Survey, which was commissioned by the Chambers of Commerce of Ireland.

This is the third year that CCI has published its annual study of the labour market known as ´Labour Force´. The purpose of the Childcare survey, which was conducted by the research company MORI/MRC, was to examine the issue of childcare in a labour market context from the perspective of employers.

“This report, which recommends the need for employers to play a role in this area, will be a particularly useful resource for small businesses in identifying trends in the labour market,” Minister Hanafin said.

“The report recommends that employers continue to develop family friendly arrangements for the workplace,” she added.

The report also acknowledges the work that is being undertaken to develop the provision of childcare under the National Development Plan. The Minister highlighted the progress of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform´s Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme as confirmation of the Government´s commitment to developing childcare supply in Ireland.

“The total childcare allocation of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform for the period 2000 to 2006 is £344 million. Since the announcement of the availability of funding in April 2000, funding in excess of £40 million has been provided to over 470 childcare projects on the ground, both in the community and private sector. To date, over 14,000 childcare places have been approved for funding under the programme and which will ensure both the continuation of existing places and the creation of almost 6,000 new childcare places,” said the Minister.

The Minister pointed out that the Health Boards also had a role in this area regarding the implementation of the Child Care (Pre-School Services) Regulations, 1996 which were introduced in December 1996. The purpose of the Regulations is to build on the existing good standards in pre-school services and gradually improve standards throughout the sector to secure the health, safety and welfare of pre-school children and to promote the development of children attending pre-school services.

“Where deficiencies in services are identified during inspection, the health board and the providers work in a co-operative manner to make specific improvements in a planned way provided that any delay would not adversely affect the welfare of children,” Minister Hanafin explained.

She added that the timescale for making improvements varies from a requirement for immediate action to a phased implementation always having regard to the health, safety and welfare of children.

“The measures in place re-affirm this Government´s commitment to keeping childcare at the forefront of its social agenda and show that this Government is delivering on its commitment to treat Childcare as a priority area for investment,” concluded Minister Mary Hanafin T.D.

(Note: Today’s launch took place at the Chambers of Commerce of Ireland, 22 Merrion Square, Dublin 2)