Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Ceisteanna (1006, 1009, 1010)

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

1006. Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the position regarding Tallaght Hospital crèche (details supplied). [22879/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Lucinda Creighton

Ceist:

1009. Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the total number of submissions his Department or the newly established Child and Family Agency have received from operating crèches, proprietors of crèches or other parties who fund the operation of crèches, or parents of children attending crèches expressing concern that new regulations from the child and family support agency Tusla for 2015 will prove too costly for crèches to meet and could pose risks to either the continued operation of crèches or increased costs for parents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22997/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Lucinda Creighton

Ceist:

1010. Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if he, his Department or the newly established Child and Family Agency have received any written or oral representations from Tallaght Hospital contending that proposed regulations from Tusla for 2015 will mean the forced closure of its Small World crèche, which has been operating for the past 11 years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22998/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1006, 1009 and 1010 together.

Almost all the preschool services in this country are provided by commercial or community providers. A small number are provided in workplace locations. All of these services are developed in response to local or employment needs and the ongoing viability of such enterprises is a matter for the service providers. My Department has no responsibility in relation to the sustainability of individual services. I am not aware of any representations from Tallaght Hospital to my Department in relation to the child care facility referred to by the Deputy. However a number of written representations by and on behalf of parents who use the facility have been received.

The recent enactment through the Child and Family Agency Act 2013 of amendments to the Child Care Act 1991 underpins a number of key reforms being introduced as part of the Preschool Quality Agenda. The amended legislation strengthens the current inspection regime, provides a statutory basis for the registration of early years services, and also provides for the setting of minimum qualification standards for staff working with children in early years services. To provide for the implementation of the changes to the Act it will be necessary to amend or make additions to the current Regulations in a number of areas, and these are currently being finalised. New National Quality Standards will also be published. It is not intended to impose any additional costs on services as a result of the new regulations, other than an increase in the annual fee payable by services to the Early Years Inspectorate. In the case of the service in question, the increase in the fee payable is expected to be in the region of €80 per annum.

My Department has introduced measures to support training for child care staff to enable them to upskill to meet the increased qualification requirements and €3 million is being made available over the next two years for this initiative. A key element of the Preschool Quality Agenda is to strengthen the preschool inspection system nationally. My Department is working with the Early Years Inspectorate to develop new protocols on regulatory compliance so that there is greater clarity and consistency of approach. I am confident that these reforms will provide for a more consistent and robust preschool inspection regime. I have asked the Child and Family Agency to examine if any representations from the hospital have been received by them in respect of the child care facility, and to reply directly to the Deputy in this matter.