I presented the first edition of “A New Approach To Childcare” to theFianna Fáil Parliamentary Party in the presence of An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern TD, Minister for Finance, Brian Cowen TD, Fianna Fáil ministers, TD’s and Senators on the 28th June 2005. The first edition made 11 separate recommendations and was compiled following a series of consultative public meetings and a conference involving childcare providers, parents and childcare organisations.
I then distributed the document widely and campaigned for the implementation of its many recommendations.
I believe that my childcare policy document, and the support it received from many parents and childcare providers, had a significant influence on the formulation of the new National Childcare Strategy 2006-2010, which was announced by Minister for Finance, Brian Cowen TD in his Budget in December 2005. The new National Childcare Strategy had many welcome features, for example, the recognition for the first time that the Children’s Allowance was not an adequate contribution to childcare costs and the consequent introduction of a Childcare Supplement of €1,000 per year for each child in Ireland under the age of 6 years. It also provided State funding for almost double the number of childcare places in community and private crèches – to some 10,000 extra places a year.
A further positive development has been the establishment of the Office of the Minister for Children under Minister Brian Lenihan TD This office was established by the Government to maximise the co-ordination of policies for children and young people (including early childhood care and education, youth justice and child protection). This new office has a range of functions previously discharged under the departments of Health and Children; Justice, Equality and Law Reform and Education and Science.
Thousands of parents are still faced with the search for convenient, affordable and trustworthy childcare places.
I believe there is also a need for a greater focus on the early childhood, care and education needs of children and this updated edition of my childcare document makes a series of recommendations on pre-school education.
The November 2006 edition of “A New Approach to Childcare” tracks the progress made since the publication of the initial edition in June 2005 and lays out a series of recommendations for further enhancements in our childcare services to help the hard-pressed parents of young children throughout the land. The fact remains that thousands of parents are faced with the search for trustworthy, affordable and high quality childcare.
To download “A New Approad To Childcare”, click A New Approach to Childcare (689KB).
To download “Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme explained”, click Early Childhood Care and Education Explained).Senator Mary White