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 Dublin South West bye-election candidate, Senator Cáit Keane affirmed her commitment to providing affordable, high quality childcare for parents in the area at a Public Meeting in the Maldron Hotel last night. Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. James Reilly TD, attended the meeting.
“I have been working for Early Years services and interventions since 1991,” Senator Keane told the meeting.
“I want to raise the quality of early years care and education for our children through increased training for staff. Childcare staff carry out such important work and I would like to see them properly supported. Every euro we spend on young people reaps an extraordinary reward and having the best trained staff in childcare settings makes a huge difference to children and to their parents, who can see the difference this makes to their children,” she stated.
“I also think inspections of childcare providers should be increased, but it’s vital that the inspectors are trained adequately to do this job,” she continued.
Senator Cáit Keane, Fine Gael’s candidate in the Dublin South West bye-election, is today (Tuesday) calling on South Dublin County Council to elaborate on plans to dispose of land at a site opposite The Old Mill pub, in Old Bawn, Tallaght, to the Department of Education.
The site, if agreed by local Councillors, would provide for one new school. The provision of a school at this busy junction would be subject to normal planning permission procedure.
“This issue was on the Council agenda last year but the land disposal did not take place at that time, due to considerable local concerns about the proposed site,” Senator Keane explained. “That site, which was adjacent to Firhouse Community Centre, was considered totally unsuitable. It is the only open space in the area, which is already extensively used by the football club and other local sports’ clubs. I have asked South Dublin County Council to take this site off the disposal agenda permanently,” she stated.
“The two new schools which opened in 2013, Firhouse Educate Together and Gaelscoil Na Guise, deserve proper sites and accommodation for staff and pupils,” Senator Keane continued.