I propose to take Questions Nos. 229 and 231 together.
Under the Child Care (Pre-School Services) (No 2) Regulations 2006, services providing care for children who have not yet commenced primary school are required to notify their service to the Pre-School Inspectorate of the HSE. Childminders taking care of not more than three pre-school children from different families are not covered by the Regulations and are not required to notify.
As is the case with all regulatory requirements, the Child Care Regulations set the minimum standards which services are legally required to comply with. However, my Department is pro-active in monitoring, promoting and developing the highest standards of care and education throughout the sector, including the regulatory environment, given the important role which these services play in this crucial phase of children’s lives.
My Department has commenced work on Ireland's first Early Years Strategy. One of the policy issues which I have identified for consideration in the preparation of the Early Years Strategy is the development of the childminding sector as a fully-integrated component of early childhood care and education, in particular for the under-one age group. Decisions on how best to regulate and support the childminding sector will continue to form part of the ongoing work on the Early Years Strategy.