Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Thursday, 2 June 2022
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Gender Equality
Recommendations of the Report of the Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality: Discussion (Resumed)
I am sorry for arriving late but I am trying to cover a number of meetings this morning and apologise if what I am about to ask has been asked. I will focus on the area of early years and integrated disability provision or the recognition of integrated services in the sector because I guess that it is a challenge. My experience is that early years education has been an incredibly useful and beneficial service for many children and starts the process of a fully integrated educational experience or childcare setting experience. I am mindful of what I have heard in the past while regarding the level of uncertainty and the need for certainty in the area.
I am interested in the thoughts of witnesses on what we need if we were to provide in every early learning or early child care setting truly integrated service provision for families who need it. There would be a knock-on effect throughout a family when a child with additional needs receives good child care. What do we need to put in place? What certainty would the Government need to put in place in terms of training for staff? How much funding is needed to pay for capital costs to provide accommodation? Is there a different requirement in terms of capital costs? Are more extensive capital costs required to provide extra facilities or particular rooms?
One of the previous speakers mentioned the public-private model. Is there a trepidation or worry about the pubic-private model being able to provide services? Do the witnesses think that a profit-driven model can truly provide services?
Finally, how can more extended therapies be linked with publicly provided service provision? Many children need occupational therapy or speech and language therapy and parents are told to find such therapies through a community liaison point and not necessarily in the childcare or educational setting. My questions focus on the integrated disability approach and whether the witnesses think that such provision is a challenge.