Tuesday, 6 July 2021
Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
63. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth the progress made in developing the concept of a childcare development agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36205/21]
The Programme for Government commits to establishing a dedicated agency, Childcare Ireland, “to assist in expanding high quality early learning and childcare, best practice and innovation, and professional development in community and private settings, along with developing career paths for early learning and childcare staff, and for expansion of the early years curriculum, Síolta”.
As a precursor to establishing Childcare Ireland, my Department is carrying out a comprehensive review of the operating model for early learning and childcare. This is line with a commitment in First 5, the Whole of Government Strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families(2019-2028).
The early learning and childcare sector has grown substantially in the past decade. The objective of this Review is to ensure that the operating model is fit for purpose to implement early learning and childcare policy relating to quality, affordability and access, to the scale and standards required in an evolving and expanding sector.
I am pleased to report that this work is well underway.
An Oversight Group, chaired by my Department, has been established and is meeting regularly.
An independent external contractor – Indecon - has been engaged by my Department to undertake an analysis of the current operating model and to consider options for reform. This analysis by Indecon, which involved significant stakeholder engagement, is due to conclude in the coming months.
It is envisaged that the analysis carried out for this Review will provide a robust evidence base to inform a decision concerning the establishment of Childcare Ireland and the range of functions it may provide. I look forward to bringing a report to Government on the matter later in 2021.