Press Release

Minister Lenihan opens the Irish Pre-School Playgrounds Association (IPPA), the Early Childhood Organisation´s National Annual General Meeting

Mr Brian Lenihan T.D., Minister for Children, today (Friday 26 September 2003) opened the Irish Pre-School Playgroups Association (IPPA), the Early Childhood Organisation´s National Annual General Meeting and Conference at a function held in the Glenroyal Hotel, Maynooth, Co Kildare.

The Conference will run from 26 to 27 September and will focus on the theme of Celebrating Children´s Identities, Cultures and Voices.

Minister Lenihan praised the commitment of the IPPA in particular in relation to the organisation of this conference which he said “will prove invaluable to the development of equality and diversity issues in childcare practices throughout Ireland, helping to frame our ongoing exploration of the continuous new challenges involved in service provision in an increasingly diverse society”. The Minister went on to say that “There is a need for those practitioners and others working in childcare services to develop the awareness, the understanding and the necessary skills to implement diversity and anti-discriminatory practice. Diversity, equality and anti-discriminatory issues must be integral to high quality practice”.

Minister Lenihan highlighted the importance of the availability of quality child care both from a child’s and a parent´s point of view. The Minister also referred to the way in which “The Government has tackled the issue of childcare in a constructive, dynamic and progressive way not only by providing additional services and much needed places nationwide, but also by establishing an infrastructure at national and local level, which will develop policy and identify solutions to meet the need for childcare”. Referring to “The Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000-2006 which is administered by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and has a total budget of almost€437 million of which €170.1 million is being made available by the European Union”, Minister Lenihan added that “It is anticipated that, when the Programme is completed, there will be a significant increase, (28,000) in the number of centre-based childcare places available which will enable parents avail of employment, educational or training opportunities”.

“Quality in childcare is an evolving process as new standards, learning and understanding are developed and we want to take this on board”, said the Minister referring to the review of the Child Care (Pre-School) Services Regulations, 1996 led by the Department of Health and Children which is currently at an advanced stage.