Child Care Qualifications

Questions (232, 233, 234, 235)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

232. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her views on a pre-budget submission by Early Childhood Ireland that a training transformation fund should be provided, which would support higher qualifications and continuing professional development; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41405/13]

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Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

233. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her views on an Early Childhood Ireland proposal that a group of skilled mentors be available to work with clusters of child care services across the country (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41406/13]

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Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

234. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will ensure that trainers or tutors who deliver child care or education training must have qualifications and experience relevant to the sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41407/13]

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Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

235. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs on behalf of Early Childhood Ireland, if she will adopt a phased approach to the introduction of standards with training and support for the sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41409/13]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 232 to 235, inclusive, together.

I am committed, in conjunction with the HSE and other stakeholders, to progressing a Pre-School Quality Agenda involving a range of actions aimed at improving the quality within early years services and enhancing the regulatory regime. I have outlined to the Dáil on a number of occasions the areas which I believe need to be addressed as a matter of urgency and a number of reforms have already commenced.

Budget discussions in relation to funding priorities for next year are underway and a number of groups have made pre-budget submissions to my Department. While all proposals are welcomed and are given consideration by my officials, it is not the practice to engage in correspondence or discussions in relation to these proposals while the budgetary process is ongoing.

Child Care Services Provision

Questions (236, 237)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

236. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs on behalf of Early Childhood Ireland if she will ensure data from the inspection report countrywide are located and analysed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41410/13]

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Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

237. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs on behalf of Early Childhood Ireland, if she will develop blueprints with targets and timelines to link funding to quality and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41411/13]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 236 and 237 together.

I am committed, in conjunction with the HSE and other stakeholders, to progressing a Pre-School Quality Agenda involving a range of actions aimed at improving the quality within early years services and enhancing the regulatory regime. I have outlined to the Dáil on a number of occasions the areas which I believe need to be addressed as a matter of urgency and a number of reforms have already commenced.

Budget discussions in relation to funding priorities for next year are underway and a number of groups have made submissions to my Department, including Early Childhood Ireland, which are being taken into consideration in this context. However, it is not the practice to engage in correspondence or discussions on these proposals while the budgetary process is ongoing.

Child Care Services Inspections

Questions (238, 239)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

238. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will include early childhood specialists within inspection teams to build an existing expertise within the sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41412/13]

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Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

239. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs on behalf of Early Childhood Ireland, if she will ensure that services have the right to reply on all inspection reports; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41413/13]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

Under the Child Care (Pre-School Services) (No 2) Regulations 2006 as provided in the Child Care Act 1991, the Health Service Executive has responsibility for the inspection of services and the enforcement of the regulations. Inspection is carried out to monitor compliance with the Regulations thereby ensuring the health, safety and welfare of children and the promotion of their development.

I understand that the HSE in May this year introduced national standard procedures which will afford childcare service providers the right to reply to their inspection reports. The process of publishing all reports on-line is underway which will allow open access to parents, providers and the general public to inspection findings.

We are working on developing a more robust, consistent and regular inspection system There has been a significant programme of work underway in the HSE over the past year to develop a single, consistent national inspection service. Building on this work, officials of my Department and the Department of Education and Skills have been examining options to incrementally develop a more comprehensive and broader-based inspection regime for pre-schools; moving away from a narrow focus on compliance, and leading to a greater focus on children's outcomes, including educational development and child wellbeing.

The staff of the HSE's pre-school inspection service will transfer to the new Child and Family Agency which will be established shortly. New national management arrangement are being introduced to ensure consistency and the best use of resources. The configuration of the inspection teams will be considered as part of this process.

Consultancy Contracts Expenditure

Questions (240)

Billy Timmins

Question:

240. Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the consultants, if any, she has contracted since 1 January 2013 to advise on the possible sale of any assets; the current situation; the advice given and the terms and cost of the contract; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41539/13]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

I wish to inform the Deputy that my Department has not contracted consultants, since 1 January 2013, to advise on the possible sale of any assets.