Thursday, 6 July 2006

Ceisteanna (54, 55)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

52 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of places being provided under the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme in June 2006 compared to the number in 2005; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28077/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Health)

As the Deputy will be aware I now have responsibility for the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000-2006 and the follow on programme the National Childcare Investment Programme 2006-2010, which are being implemented by the newly established Office of the Minister for Children.

The number of new places created under the Programme is not yet available for the period requested by the Deputy. However, I have set out in the following table the figure for the most recent period available, to end December 2005, for the total number of new child care places created up to that point as well as the projected number of places to be created on the basis of the funding approved over the same period. I have also provided similar figures for the periods ended December 2004, 2003 and 2002 for comparative purposes.

Period to end December

2002

2003

2004

2005

Actual number of new places created

8,063

18,320

24,636

28,852

Projected number of new places being created

20,894

27,327

33,321

41,030

The deputy will please note that the original target for the Programme was the creation of an additional 28,402 new child care places. This target was revised upwards at the mid term point following the early success of the Programme and now stands at 31,332 new places.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

53 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the extent of her Department’s responsibility for child care; if there have been any changes in allocation of responsibilities between Departments, Ministers and Ministers of State in the area of child care in the past year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28078/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

The Office of the Minister for Children was established in accordance with the Government decision of 7th December, 2005 to place the interests of children at the heart of Government and to build on the successes already achieved in the context of the National Children's Strategy. The Office is an integral part of the Department of Health and Children. The responsibilities of the new office comprise the following: the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme — EOCP (transferred from the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform); the new National Childcare Investment Programme which was announced in Budget 2006 as part of the new National Childcare Strategy for the next 5 years; the programmes and activities of the former National Children's Office; policy and legislative work on Child Welfare and Protection (Department of Health and Children); Implementing the Children Act (2001).

The new Youth Justice Service of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Early Years Education Policy Unit of the Department of Education and Science will be co-located at the new office. The purpose in bringing these various responsibilities together is to maximize the co-ordination of policies for children and young persons and to provide a strong focus at the highest level. The Office of the Minister for Children also maintains a general strategic oversight of bodies with responsibility for developing and delivering children's services.

As Minister for Children, I hold delegated responsibilities in the Departments of Health & Children, Education & Science, and Justice, Equality & Law Reform for those areas appropriate to my brief. In addition, I attend meetings of the Government. This gives a strong voice for the interests of children and young persons at Cabinet level.