My Department has no specific plans to provide crechè facilities directly for women who wish to return to the workforce. As indicated in the Programme for Economic and Social Progress, the role of the Government in the provision of child care services for working parents is to stimulate the development of child care services by employers, individually and collectively, including the promotion of child care partnerships between public authorities and employers. In discharge of that role, the Government is taking a range of measures designed to improve child care facilities for working parents. These measures were set out in my reply to Priority Question No. 2 by Deputy Theresa Ahearn on 30 April last.
In relation to the State's own position as an employer, the Programme for Economic and Social Progress provides for the introduction of child care facilities on a progressive basis in the public service with the State providing the physical facilities and the staff paying the running costs. The first civil service crechè has recently opened. Concerning the provision of crechè facilities by FÁS to promote female participation in training and occupational mobility, the setting up of crechè facilities in the vicinity of FÁS training centres and the possibility of providing such facilities in partnership with local industry and local community interests is being pursued on a pilot basis under the NOW Programme.