Fine Gael Senator for Dublin South-West, Cáit Keane, has called on the Minister for Education & Skills, Jan O’Sullivan, and Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, James Reilly TD, to introduce a strong cross departmental approach in order to improve standards in the childcare sector. The Senator made her comments in the context of the Seanad debate on ‘Improving the Quality of Early Years Education’ today (Thursday).
“With increased focus on the childcare sector in recent years, there is a great opportunity to achieve higher standards through a coordinated cross departmental approach.
“We need better coordination in childcare inspections in the early years childcare sector. For childcare workers we need to see the implementation of continuous professional development (CPD) programme.
“This Government is committed to improving childcare in the context of the early years education sector. It has been evident in the establishment of a new national policy framework; ‘Better Outcomes Brighter Futures: the National Policy Framework for Children and Young People 2014 – 2020’ and the setting up of TUSLA, a new Child and Family Agency tasked with the responsibility of ensuring the health, safety and welfare of pre-school children attending childcare services. Since July 1st 2013, their inspection reports on early years services have been published on-line which is really positive and makes the information publically accessible.
“TUSLA also has remit over inspections of childcare facilities in the state as well as the DES section in the Department of Education and Skills who are currently developing an inspection programme. I am calling for the Department of Education and Skills and TUSLA to coordinate their inspection functions to enable a more streamlined approach to carrying out inspections with the goal of better outcomes for the sector. I support what the Government is doing in terms of pursuing better quality in the sector especially in light of recent media reports on malpractice in certain childcare facilities. I think it is vital that the Minister introduce a more progressive and fair pay structure along with a Continuous Professional Development (CPD) programme for those working in this sector, similar to structures already in place in the primary, secondary and third level sector.
“It is paramount that all stakeholders comprehend the importance of early years education for personal development of individuals in society. We cannot have good childcare and early education with a satisfied and appropriately qualified and remunerated workforce when we do not have all of the necessary structures in place. Therefore, I am calling on Ministers Reilly and O’Sullivan to introduce single and more coordinated inspections, and the introduction of continuous professional development for early years workers.”
I am pleased to speak on this important debate on quality of early years educations in the house today. Prevention and Early Intervention in Children and young people’s services is most important and return to state documented . I know practitioners and their organisations are working hard to support positive outcomes for children, for families and communities through programmes and services focusing on prevention and early intervention. Recently I know considerable attention has been given to supporting a prevention and early intervention approach at policy level. The Establishment of the Child and Family Agency, in January 2014, represents the most comprehensive- reform ever of child protection, early intervention and family support services in Ireland.
Last year the Government launched ‘Better Outcomes Brighter Futures: the National Policy Framework for Children and Young People 2014 – 2020’ This ‘is the first overarching national policy framework for children and young people aged from birth to 24 years and is being implemented by the Department of Children and Young Affairs in collaboration with all Government departments and key State agencies. Better Outcomes: Brighter Futures’ recognizes that our increasing child and youth population is a significant resource for our country; and further recognised that ensuring the best possible outcomes for this group is therefore an important element in our future economic planning. the Department of Children and Youth Affairs has invested €35 million in the national longitudinal study of children, Growing Up in Ireland, conducted by the ESRI and TCD – The vision of the National Framework is to work towards achieving six Outcomes.
Fine Gael Senator for Dublin South-West, Senator Cáit Keane, has today (Thursday) welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan, of 7 new building projects for Dublin South-West. This announcement is in addition to the 4 other building projects that were commenced or completed in Dublin South-West in 2014; Sancta Maria College, Rathfarnham (ongoing from 2014) St. Colmcille’s Junior NS, Knocklyon (completed in 2014), St. Colmcille’s Senior NS, Knocklyon (completed in 2014) and Bllcragh NS, Firhouse (completed in 2014). The 7 new building projects announced today are:
Scoil Caitlín Maude, Tallaght
Scoil Niamh, Citywest Community NS
Citywest ET, Tallaght
Gaelscoil Oldbawn, Tallaght
Scoil Aoife, Tallaght West CNS
Scoil Niamh, Citywest Community NS, Tallaght
“I welcome today’s announcement of 7 new school building projects for my constituency, Dublin South-West. This news is very positive and further demonstrates the Government’s commitments to delivering the ambitious school building programme announced after taking office in 2011. As the population of Dublin South-West continues to grow, there is a pressing need for more schools to serve the educational needs of a growing community.
“In total, there are 70 major school projects that are planned to proceed to construction in 2015 nationally including 44 new schools and 11 major extensions at primary level, 5 new schools and 8 major extensions at post primary level and 2 new special schools. These school projects will deliver over 27,800 permanent school places and of these over 23,700 are additional places. The remainder will be the replacement of temporary or unsatisfactory accommodation. 54 of these projects were included on the five year plan, and we had indicated they would proceed to construction in either 2014/15 or 2015/16. For these 54 schools, they are now being provided with certainty that their projects will proceed to construction during 2015.
“The Government recognises the need to find the funding to advance projects where school buildings are in poor condition, as well as those which have been required purely to accommodate demographic growth. These new projects will create employment for construction sector workers in the Dublin South-West area which will in turn have a knock on effect on service industries in the local communities. They will also provide much needed schools for our children in the education system and therefore, I fully endorse this announcement.”
Fine Gael Senator for Dublin South-West, Cáit Keane, has today (Thursday) welcomed the announcement of €13,600 for projects in Tallaght which is being made available to groups through National Lottery grants. The funding was announced by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, James Reilly TD, this week.
This follows on from the awarding of National Lottery funding to 18 projects for older people announced by the Minister for Heath, Leo Varadkar last week.
The youth group projects receiving funding include:
€4,000 for St. Kevin’s Girls NS, Treepark Road, Kilnamanagh, Dublin 24 for the purchase of equipment and a summer activities programme
€4,000 for the New Hope Residential Centre, Kiltalown Cottage, Hazelgrove Golf Course, Mount Seskin Road, Dublin 24 to construct a new playground as part of a drug rehabilitation project
€4,000 for St. Dominic’s Community Centre, 60 and 60A Avonbeg Gardens, Dublin 24 to develop a natural play area
€1,600 for Killinarden FRC, Killinarden Way, Dublin 24 to provide a life skills club and grinds for Leaving Certificate students
Senator Keane said: ‘This funding will go a long way to assisting in the vital work carried out by these groups in the Tallaght community to expand on the excellent work that they are already doing The funding will be used for initiatives that support young people, those recovering from addictions and others in the community who require services to help develop and grow their personal skills. I am confident that this funding will be put to good use and that it will be appreciated by those in the Tallaght area who are to avail of it and the difference it will make to their community organisations.”