NATIONAL CHILDCARE CENSUS REPORT

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1 NATIONAL CHILDCARE CENSUS REPORT BASELINE DATA National Childcare Census Report Baseline Data

2 Number of Sessional and Full-day Care Facilities 1,500 1,200 Border, Midlands and Western Region (BMW) Southern and Eastern Region (S&E) Sessional Donegal 0 BMW S&E Full-day Care Leitrim Mayo Sligo Cavan Monaghan Roscommon Longford Meath Louth Galway Westmeath Offaly Kildare Dublin Laois Wicklow Clare Tipperary Kilkenny Carlow Limerick Wexford Kerry Waterford Cork 1,500 Number of Community Based and Privately Run Facilities 1, Community 0 BMW S&E Private

3 Contents Foreword by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr. Michael McDowell, T.D. 5 Chapter 1 Overview and National Context 1.1 Introduction Methodology Stage 1 Information and Training Stage 2 Data Gathering and Analysis Stage 3 Production of Reports The National Synthesis Report Regional Figures Rural/Urban Figures National Childcare Context Supply and Demand Issues Developing a Childcare Framework (The Policy Landscape) The Commission on the Family (July 1998) The National Childcare Strategy (January 1999) The National Forum on Early Childhood Education (November 1998) The White Paper on Early Childhood Education (1999) The National Children s Strategy (November 2000) The Child Care (Pre-school Services) Regulations (1996) Guidelines for Planning Authorities on Childcare Facilities (July 2001) Existing Situation in 2002 (Key Developments) Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform Interdepartmental Synergies Committee National Co-ordinating Childcare Committee County Childcare Committees Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme Ireland and the European Context Conclusion 17 1

4 Chapter 2 National Demographic Context Summary 19 Detailed Analysis of Chapter Country Profile National Demographic Profile Population Young Population Family Units Number of Children per Family Unit Labour Force Participation Economic Status 25 Chapter 3 Childcare Provision Summary/Key Findings 27 Detailed Analysis of Chapter Location and Type of Facilities Types of Childcare Service Available Distribution of Full-day Service Provision Compared with the Distribution of the Population Aged 12 and Under Distribution of Sessional Service Provision Compared with the Distribution of the Population Aged 12 and Under Opening Hours 35 Chapter 4 Usage of Childcare Key Findings 39 Detailed Analysis of Chapter Attendance at Childcare Facilities Age Profile of Children Attending Childcare Facilities Children on Waiting Lists for Childcare Places Average Maximum Distance Travelled by Parents to Access Childcare Facilities Modes of Transport Used to Reach Childcare Facilities 48 2

5 Chapter 5 Organisational Features of Services and Issues of Notification/Inspection Key Findings 49 Detailed Analysis of Chapter Types of Accommodation Ownership of Premises Access to Outdoor Play Space Organisational Make-up of Childcare Facilities Membership of Umbrella Organisations Notification and Inspection Status Issues Raised Prior to/during First Inspection 58 Chapter 6 Staffing Issues Key Findings 61 Detailed Analysis of Chapter Staff Numbers and Employment Status Formal Qualifications of Staff Remuneration Involvement of Students on Placement Involvement of Volunteers Ongoing Training and Development of Staff 75 Chapter 7 Models of Service and Practice Key Findings 77 Detailed Analysis of Chapter Childcare Practice and Policies Partnership with Parents Planning and Curriculum Development Expansion of Services Facilities Catering for those with Specific Requirements (regarding disability) 87 3

6 Chapter 8 Finance Key Findings 89 Detailed Analysis of Chapter Estimated Annual Income and Expenditure Sources of Income and Expenditure 91 Bibliography 95 Appendix 1 Childcare Census Questionnaire 97 Appendix 2 BMW/S&E Regional Divisions 109 Appendix 3 Participation in National Childcare Census by County 110 Appendix 4 Number of Facilities/Number of Children Attending by County 111 4

7 Foreword by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr. Michael McDowell, T.D. I greatly welcome the publication of the synthesis report of the 1999/2000 National Childcare Census which presents us with a national overview of group based childcare provision in Ireland. The Census gives us much needed baseline information essential for the continued development of the childcare sector. With financial assistance from the European Social Fund, ADM Ltd carried out this invaluable census of childcare provision and usage in each county in Ireland during 1999/2000. The resultant County/Area Childcare Census Reports have been widely used and have proved to be a valuable tool for policy makers in informing the co-ordination and development of childcare in Ireland over the past few years. The provision of this important hard data proved to be essential in the development of the strategic childcare plans of the County and City Childcare Committees, which are the cornerstones of the national childcare strategy, ensuring that local childcare needs are met and future needs anticipated as accurately as possible. The present Report, with which I am delighted to be associated, collates and analyses the county data to give us a regional and national picture of childcare provision in Ireland prior to the major expansion which is now taking place. Childcare is one of the priority areas of investment under the National Development Plan The million Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme , which is partfinanced through the EU Structural Funds, was established by my Department as a seven year Programme to increase the number of childcare facilities and places, to improve the quality of childcare services and to introduce a co-ordinated approach to the delivery of childcare services. I would like to pay tribute to all those involved in the development of this important resource tool: ADM Ltd, GAMMA Ltd, the Centre for Social and Educational Research, the Area Partnerships and Community Groups and indeed all of the front-line personnel who contributed to this worthwhile exercise. Mr. Michael McDowell, T.D. Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform 5

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9 Chapter 1 Overview and National Context 1.1 Introduction This synthesis report summarises the results of the National Childcare Census carried out between April 1999 and April 2000 by ADM Ltd on behalf of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. The Census was funded by the Irish Government and partfinanced by the European Union. Thirty five county/area reports 1 were produced during 2001 and 2002, and the current publication is a synthesis of the information contained in these reports. The aim of the Census was to improve the information flow about childcare services in Ireland and to establish a central body of baseline information covering all centre-based childcare 2 facilities/services supported by the State, community and private sectors. The Census does not provide information on Childminders 3. This work was undertaken in response to the acknowledged information deficit that has existed in the childcare sector in Ireland. It is intended that it will also be a tool for use by decision-makers and stakeholders in the childcare sector, at local and national level, as they plan for the future. The survey additionally contributes to compliance with Ireland s reporting requirements to the EU. The objectives of the exercise were: To produce a national overview of existing service provision and to set a baseline against which future development can be measured To provide information about childcare provision in Ireland, in terms of its quantity and quality, and to identify any gaps in the services provided To make information available at a local level to assist decision-makers and childcare providers in the ongoing planning and delivery of services 1.2 Methodology The method used in compiling this National Census was a survey of all centre-based childcare providers in the country catering for children aged 0-12 years. There were three stages to the implementation process: Stage 1 Information and Training In order to raise awareness of the National Childcare Census and to collate details of all the childcare providers in each county, ADM held 35 county/area meetings around the country, which were kindly organised and hosted by the Local Development Social Inclusion Programme (LDSIP) Partnerships and Community Groups. In total, approximately 300 key policy-makers/stakeholders attended these meetings. 1 A County Childcare Census Report was completed for each county, and for each of the eight city areas (Dublin City, South County Dublin, Fingal, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, Cork City, Limerick City, Galway City and Waterford City). A separate report covering the Gaeltacht areas was also produced. 2 For the purposes of this research, the term childcare is used to describe group based childcare services (and not individual childminders). The range includes day-care facilities and services for pre-school aged children and for schoolgoing children outside of school hours (e.g. pre-schools, day care centres, crèches, playgroups, and after-school groups). 3 This National Childcare Census followed the implementation of legislation governing most group-based childcare settings. The Child Care (Pre-school Services) Regulations (1996), administered by the Health Boards, provided a formal framework of notification which was used as the starting point for this first National Childcare Census. As most childminders were outside of this legislation, they were not included in the Census. It was recognised that their inclusion would have warranted a specifically designed methodology to ensure the participation of this section of childcare in a meaningful way. In the county/area reports that were produced, it was acknowledged that the level of childcare provision at that time was also supplemented by childminders and by relatives, who play a significant part in the care of children, particularly those in the younger age groups. 7

10 Local childcare personnel were identified by LDSIP Partnership and Community Groups (or other stakeholders at/after the county/area meetings) to carry out the data collection on behalf of ADM. In total, 129 Data Collectors entered into short-term contracts with ADM, and 40 training workshops were organised to induct and train Data Collectors. Most workshops were held after the county/area meetings at which the Data Collectors were present. The Data Collectors were trained in the administration of the structured questionnaire (see Appendix 1), which was designed by ADM in conjunction with national service providers and others involved in childcare. It was based on a questionnaire that had previously been used in Northern Ireland for a similar survey of childcare providers Stage 2 Data Gathering and Analysis The questionnaire was first piloted with facilities in the County Sligo area. The main data collection across the country was completed between April 1999 and April Based on lists of childcare providers obtained at the area/county meetings, 3,052 5 childcare providers were contacted and asked to participate in the National Childcare Census 6. Six per cent (184) of those approached did not provide any information for the Childcare Census, with the remaining 2,868 (94%) childcare providers providing some information. Of the 2,868 providers that provided some response, 2,607 (91%) participated fully in the National Childcare Census. The Census results presented in this report are, therefore, based on the responses of 2,607 providers (or 85% of the original number contacted). Data Collectors, who had been trained in the administration of the questionnaire, carried out face-to-face interviews with each of the 2,607 providers on a county by county basis. The information gathered in the questionnaires was entered into a central database. It was then analysed in conjunction with data from the 1996 National Census (of population 7 ) (carried out by the Central Statistics Office) and the Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) (1998, 1999 and 2000), from which population information relating to age, gender, employment status, etc. was obtained Stage 3 Production of Reports In total, 35 county/area reports were produced (including one for the Gaeltacht areas) and distributed to national and local organisations involved in the planning of childcare provision. Most notably, County Childcare Committees responsible for co-ordinating childcare provision in their respective counties/areas have used the reports to help identify the gaps in provision and to inform the proposed actions contained in their strategic plans. Thirty five corresponding Executive Summaries, outlining the main points of the County Childcare Census Reports, were also produced. A Directory of Services (a list of providers) was included at the back of each summary, to be used by parents to identify childcare resources close to their home. A copy of the full Childcare Census Report and the Executive Summary for each County can be found in the County Library or can be viewed by contacting the County Childcare Committee or ADM. 8 4 ADM would like to acknowledge the assistance of Siobhan Fitzpatrick of NIPPA (Northern Ireland Pre-school Playgroup Association) for supplying the questionnaire used in the Northern Ireland study for information purposes and for sharing the experience of conducting a childcare audit in Northern Ireland. 5 As a result of the necessary collation of the information used in the Census from a variety of sources, there were occasionally situations where a facility contacted had closed down or was found to be a duplicate. Conversely, in several counties, there were additional facilities in development that were not included in the Census. It should also be noted that, at the time of the Census, the Health Board Regulations (1996) had relatively recently been introduced and childcare providers were adjusting to the new regime of notification and inspection, which may have deterred them from participation in the Census. 6 The providers were contacted by letter, given the name of their local Data Collector and told that that person would soon be contacting them by telephone. 7 At the time of writing of this report, the 1996 Census was the most up to date source of population data. A Census due to take place in April 2001 was postponed due to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease and did not actually take place until April The CSO plans to release all data from this Census in 2003.

11 1.2.4 The National Synthesis Report This report presents the national picture regarding childcare facilities. Information included in respect of each individual county in the County Childcare Census Reports is collated, and some information that was not present in the individual county reports is also included. This includes information pertaining to the organisational nature of childcare facilities, the ongoing training and development of staff, planning and curriculum development, and provisions for those with specific requirements (regarding disability) Regional Figures 8 Figures are also produced in this synthesis report for the Border Midlands and Western (BMW 9 ) region and the Southern and Eastern (S&E 10 ) region and comparisons are drawn where the results were found to be significantly different. The BMW and the S&E regions did not exist as specific administration units at the time when the National Childcare Census was being conducted. However, as much of the current funding for the new Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme comes from the Regional Operational Programmes (BMW and S&E) of the National Development Plan , it was felt that it was important to look at comparisons between the two regions in this report Rural/Urban Figures Information gathered in this survey is also examined in relation to any significant urban/rural differences that emerge. For ease of analysis, and so that the definitions would coincide with the County Childcare Census Reports already generated, urban and rural areas are defined in accordance with county divisions. On that basis, the eight city areas of Dublin City, South County Dublin, Fingal, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown, Waterford City, Galway City, Cork City and Limerick City are defined as urban areas, and all other counties are designated as rural areas National Childcare Context Supply and Demand Issues Recent demographic, social and economic changes in Ireland, in particular the rapidly rising female participation in the workforce, have resulted in increased demand for childcare services. The percentage of women in the labour force has continued to increase over the past number of years. There has also been an increase in the participation of both married women and mothers in the labour force. While traditionally, mothers of very young children were the most likely to stay out of the workforce, and mothers who left employment when their children were very young were likely to re-enter the labour market as their children reached school-going age, evidence suggests that this trend no longer holds. (See Chapter 2, Sections 2.4 and 2.5 for more information on the changing pattern of female employment.) 8 See Appendix 2 for more information on the regional division. 9 The counties in the BMW region are Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan, Leitrim, Sligo, Mayo, Galway, Roscommon, Westmeath, Longford, Laois, Offaly and Louth. 10 The counties located in the S&E region are Limerick, Cork, Tipperary, Kerry, Waterford, Clare, Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford, Wicklow, Kildare, Meath and Dublin. 11 The Childcare Measure and Sub-measures, known collectively as the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme ( ), form part of the Social Inclusion and Childcare Priority under the two Regional Operational Programmes (BMW and S&E) of the National Development Plan and the Community Support Framework (CSF). The CSF is the legal agreement between the Irish Government and the European Union on expenditure of EU Structural Funds in Ireland. The NDP provides the basis for this expenditure. 12 It should be noted that such a clear-cut distinction is not entirely exact, as areas designated as urban may contain rural districts, and areas defined as rural may contain urban areas (primarily towns). However, bearing in mind the definitions used in the analysis, it was considered important to include some urban/rural comparisons in this national synthesis report. 9

12 The Irish family has also undergone change in the past few years. Following two decades of marked decline, the Irish fertility rate bottomed out at the end of the 1990s and recent figures show a slight increase in the birth rate. (See Chapter 2, Sections 2.2 and 2.3 for more information on changes in the family cycle.) More children than ever are born to oneparent families, with almost one in three (32%) births occurring to lone mothers in 2000 (Fahey and Russell 2001:15). Although non-marital births account for much of the change in trends in family formation, the incidence of marital breakdown, separation and divorce also account for a substantial proportion of one-parent families. In addition, many women are now delaying childbearing, with more births being recorded to women in their 30s than was previously the case. Changes in the labour force participation rate of women and changes in the family cycle have a significant impact on childcare and in particular on the demand for childcare services Developing a Childcare Framework (The Policy Landscape) Historically, the Irish State has had minimal involvement in the provision of childcare services, limited for the most part to provisions for disadvantaged children or those deemed to be at risk in some way 13. Responsibility for the development of existing services has rested largely with the community and voluntary sector and with private self-employed providers. While pressure for the development of childcare has been on the national agenda for the past two decades, the 1990s marked a critical point in emerging policy on childcare. Between July 1998 and November 2000, five major policy documents were published, all of which dealt with childcare, albeit from different perspectives. These were: Strengthening Families for Life: the Report of the Commission on the Family (July 1998), The National Childcare Strategy: The Report of the Partnership 2000 Expert Working Group on Childcare (January 1999), The Report of the National Forum for Early Childhood Education (November 1998), Ready to Learn: White Paper on Early Childhood Education (1999) The National Children s Strategy Our Children Their Lives (November 2000). At a national level, the enforcement of the Child Care (Pre-school Services) Regulations (1996) from January 1997 and the publication of the Guidelines for Planning Authorities on Childcare Facilities in July 2001 have also been significant. This section contains a brief discussion of the policy developments that have impacted on childcare over the last few years The Commission on the Family (July 1998) In the report of the Commission on the Family, Strengthening Families for Life, childcare was addressed within the context of supporting families to meet their child-rearing responsibilities. The Commission identified quality childcare as vital to family life, as it has the potential both to support the development, education, care and welfare of the child, and to provide support to mothers with commitments outside the home. According to the Commission, there was a significant gap in the policy approach to support for families with children prior to entry to primary school. Apart from child benefit and a limited intervention programme for some children at risk of educational or social disadvantage, there was no investment in young children under school going age. According to the Commission, the State has a role to play in providing financial support to ensure that the needs of children who are being cared for both in their own homes and outside their homes are met For more information on the childcare sector in Ireland and its historical background, view for the response of the National Co-ordinating Childcare Committee to the Discussion Document: Towards a National Framework for Qualifications (National Qualifications Authority of Ireland, November 2001).

13 The Commission presented a range of options designed to provide the parents of young children with financial support to assist with their childcare responsibilities. It also identified a variety of options for investing in children who were younger than three years of age. Among its recommendations was direct financial investment in children on reaching three years of age, by means of an Early Years Opportunities subsidy that would be paid in respect of children attending childcare facilities. The Commission stated that the establishment of a national co-ordinating body of childcare provision should be prioritised. It also recommended that the Child Care (Pre-school Services) Regulations (1996) be promoted and that future developments in the regulations cover broader quality objectives in relation to the standards in services provided for children. In addition, the development of out of school services and the provision of support for childminders were advocated. Suggestions were also put forward as to how the expansion in the provision of services for children might be pursued and the potential for expansion of the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme to meet a broad range of childcare needs was highlighted. The report of the Expert Working Group on Childcare, the National Forum on Early Childhood Education and a proposed White Paper on Early Childhood Education followed the report of the Commission on the Family and dealt with childcare policy (see below). Some of the recommendations found in the report of the Commission on the Family are clearly identifiable in these later developments The National Childcare Strategy (January 1999) The Expert Working Group on childcare was established under Partnership 2000 to examine the childcare situation in Ireland and to devise a national strategy for the development of this sector. This group was chaired by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and comprised over seventy members representing the relevant government departments, social partners, statutory bodies, non-governmental organisations and parents. Eight sub-groups of the Expert Working Group each looked at a different aspect of childcare. There were two framework resource groups and six framework development groups. The framework resource groups looked at the needs and rights of children and equality of access and participation in relation to a national framework. The framework development groups looked at issues as diverse as maximising the job potential and financial implications of childcare, registration, training and qualifications, resourcing and sustaining childcare within urban disadvantaged areas and within rural areas, regulations and standards and early education. On foot of their deliberations the group made twenty seven recommendations. According to The Expert Working Group, it is essential for government to take a strategic role in order to secure high quality services that are accessible to all children, to secure an adequate childcare workforce and to develop the conditions that will optimise the work of that workforce. The development and implementation of the National Childcare Strategy was recommended as the first step in such a process. The 27 recommendations concerned issues such as registration and notification, qualifications, employment of childcare staff, income taxation and financial measures, and the establishment of new structures for the development and co-ordination of childcare. The National Childcare Strategy is important, as it represents the first systematic attempt in Ireland to develop a coherent and comprehensive government policy that specifically addresses the issue of childcare. It is this document which provides the framework for the current developments taking place in childcare in Ireland. These developments will be discussed in Section

14 The National Forum on Early Childhood Education (November 1998) The National Forum on Early Childhood Education, which took place in 1998, provided an opportunity for representatives of the major agencies involved in early childhood education to come together and to engage in multi-lateral discussions on the key issues involved in the education of young children (up to the age of 6 years). The Forum considered issues such as the provision and co-ordination of early childhood education and care services, quality and accreditation issues, early childhood education for members of minority groups, for those who experience socio-economic disadvantage and for those with special needs, training of personnel and finance issues. The White Paper on Early Childhood Education was prepared as a result of this Forum The White Paper on Early Childhood Education (1999) Ready to Learn: The White Paper on Early Childhood Education was produced in 1999, informed by the report of the National Forum for Early Childhood Education and by extensive research. The White Paper focused on children from birth to six years and recognised these years as a vital part of the life-long learning process. It recognised that the concepts of care and education of young children cannot be separated. However, as international research suggests that care is the dominant need of those aged 0 to 3 years, and education is the dominant need of those aged 3 to 6 years, it was decided to concentrate in the Paper on those between the ages of 3 and 6 years. The core objective of the White Paper was to support the development and educational achievement of children through high quality early education, with particular focus on the target groups of the disadvantaged and those with special needs (1999:14). The main components of State involvement proposed in the White Paper were the facilitation of provision and the promotion of quality in the early years sector. The White Paper proposed changes in several areas, including improvements in quality and the introduction of a Quality in Education (QE) mark for early years services, improvements in the quality of provision for infant classes, provisions for those with special needs and those that are disadvantaged, support for the involvement of parents in early childhood education, and inspection and evaluation. The White Paper also recommended the establishment of new structures to facilitate the effective co-ordination of provision, regulation and improvements in quality. The White Paper is central to current policy developments. One of the first steps taken towards implementation of the proposals contained in the White Paper has been the appointment of Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) and St. Patrick s College (Drumcondra) to jointly establish and manage the Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education (CECDE). This Centre will focus on implementing the recommendations of the White Paper and will work to develop quality standards for early childhood education. This will include standards in relation to equipment and materials, staff qualifications and training, teaching and learning methods, curriculum and guidance for parents. The Centre will also design and pilot measures to encourage compliance with these quality standards by early education providers The National Children s Strategy (November 2000) In November 2000, the National Children s Strategy Our Children Their Lives was launched. This strategy is a ten-year plan for all children, designed to improve the quality of services through co-ordination and planning at national and local level. The Strategy was influenced by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The document put forward three national goals: 12

15 that children would have a voice in all matters which affect them that children s lives would be better understood that children would receive the quality supports and services to promote all aspects of their development. To ensure realisation of these national goals, a series of objectives were identified, along with the actions necessary to achieve them. Objectives A and B of the Strategy dealt directly with childcare. Objective A stated that children s early education and developmental needs will be met through quality childcare services and family-friendly employment measures (2000:50). Objective B stated that children will benefit from a range of educational opportunities and experiences which reflect the diversity of need (2000:53). Actions were proposed under each of these measures. In addition to the planned actions, the Strategy proposed that structures be put in place to maintain a strategic approach, to support action at national and local levels and to keep progress under constant review. A National Children s Office 14 has been established with a role to lead and oversee implementation of the National Children s Strategy. A Cabinet Committee on children, chaired by the Taoiseach, meets on a quarterly basis to review progress in implementing the National Children s Strategy and to agree priorities for action. A single Minister of State with responsibility for Children across three government departments (the Department of Health and Children, the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Department of Education and Science) has been appointed. The National Children s Advisory Council has also been established. This Council has an independent advisory role in relation to the implementation of the National Children s Strategy and has had nine meetings to date. In addition, several scholarships have been awarded for research related to the Strategy The Child Care (Pre-school Services) Regulations (1996) The Child Care (Pre-school Services) Regulations (1996) came into effect in January 1997 and are administered by the Health Boards. These regulations govern the provision of preschool services and set out the procedures for the notification and inspection of childcare facilities. The regulations impact across the various types of pre-school provision, ranging from voluntary provision of community playgroups through to full-day care provision in the commercial sector. 15 At the time of publication, the Child Care (Pre-school Services) Regulations (1996) are under review Guidelines for Planning Authorities on Childcare Facilities (July 2001) In July 2001, the Guidelines for Planning Authorities on Childcare Facilities were published. These guidelines give direction to local planning authorities in preparing development plans and assessing applications for planning permission, and guide developers and childcare providers in formulating development proposals. A central focus of the guidelines is to ensure a consistency of approach throughout the country to the treatment of planning applications for childcare facilities. According to the guidelines, planning authorities should ensure that their Development Plans and Local Area Plans include policies in relation to the provision of childcare facilities. The guidelines also suggest a range of locations considered to be appropriate for the provision of childcare facilities. These include new communities or large housing developments, in the vicinity of concentrations of workplaces, in the vicinity of schools and other educational establishments, in neighbourhood, district and town centres, and in locations adjacent to public transport routes, pedestrian routes and dedicated cycleways. 14 Additional information regarding the National Children s Office and the new structures that have been put in place can be found at 15 It should be noted that childminders caring for three or fewer children are exempt from the current (1996) regulations. 13

16 1.4 Existing Situation in 2002 (Key Developments) Having outlined the policy background of childcare in Ireland, the following sections will concentrate on developments in the sector that have occurred during and since the period of the census, in the context of the National Development Plan Childcare provision in Ireland takes a variety of forms, including playgroups, Naíonraí, Montessori schools, nurseries, crèches, after school care and childminding (see National Childcare Strategy 1999:12-15 for a comprehensive description). Until recently, however, there was no coherent approach to national childcare policy and a lack of systematic support for childcare. In general, it can be said that childcare services have developed in an ad hoc manner over the past thirty years. In the absence of co-ordinated State support, much of the work in developing, supporting and advising childcare facilities has been the result of the commitment of community groups and voluntary organisations and individuals. In addition, service providers received little or no funding and have relied almost exclusively on parents fees and local fundraising to meet their running costs. The following section examines the emergence in recent years of a co-ordinated State supported strategy for the development of childcare in Ireland Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform Following the publication of the National Childcare Strategy (refer to Section ), structures were put in place to assist in the development of childcare in Ireland. The Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform has overall responsibility for the development of childcare policy, the implementation of the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme and the co-ordination of activity in the childcare sector across Government Departments. In order to fulfil its role, the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform has established a Childcare Directorate within the Equality Division of the Department. The Department has also put into place a series of structures at national and local level to bring the key players together to ensure the effective development of childcare. This infrastructure consists of The Inter-departmental Synergies Committee, The National Co-ordinating Childcare Committee and the County Childcare Committees, each of which will now be briefly described Interdepartmental Synergies Committee This Committee is chaired by an Assistant Secretary and focuses on policy. Its main tasks are to examine all childcare initiatives being promoted by Departments, to ensure initiatives are co-ordinated between Departments, to develop synergies between Departments, to resolve difficulties between Departments and to advise the National Coordinating Childcare Committee on developments in childcare policy National Co-ordinating Childcare Committee Chaired by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, this committee oversees the development of an integrated childcare infrastructure throughout the country. Membership is comprised of representatives from the statutory and non-statutory sectors, including the social partners and the national voluntary childcare organisations. 14

17 1.4.4 County Childcare Committees County Childcare Committees have been established in 33 Counties and Cities in Ireland to develop a co-ordinated strategy for childcare provision within their areas. Each County Childcare Committee has prepared a five-year strategic plan for the development of childcare services that addresses the specific childcare needs of its own area. Each strategy provides a framework for the development of childcare based on a shared vision and analysis of the needs within the county/city Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme The Department of Justice, Equality and Law reform introduced the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme to spearhead the development of childcare in Ireland. The Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme is funded by the Irish Government and part-financed by the European Union Structural Funds under the National Development Plan The National Development Plan (NDP) is the largest and most ambitious investment plan drawn up for Ireland. It provides for investment of over 57 billion of Public, Private and EU Structural & Cohesion Funds over the period The plan involves significant investment in services, social housing, education, public transport, rural development, industry and waste services. The National Development Plan comprises: 3 National or Inter-regional Programmes (Economic and Social Infrastructure, Employment and Human Resource Development and Productive Sector), 2 Regional Operational Programmes (focused on the development of regional infrastructure, social inclusion and productive investment in the BMW and S&E) the PEACE programme (the border counties and Northern Ireland). The promotion of social inclusion is a key NDP objective and the main funding for childcare is allocated through the social inclusion measures of the two Regional Operational Programmes. In total, million is provided under the National Development Plan. As childcare is still seen as an equality measure within Europe, the European Union Structural Funds contribute to this 317.4m. The total ( 317.4m) is divided between the BMW region ( 87.6m, 27.6%) and the S&E region ( 229.8m, 72.4%). The Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme also receives funding under the antiinflationary pact. In early March 2001, some funding measures for childcare ( 85.7 million) previously under the remit of the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs and the Department of Education and Science were transferred to the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. The Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme has an overall budget of million and is administered by Area Development Management Ltd on behalf of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. The main objectives of the EOCP are: to improve the quality of childcare to maintain and increase the number of childcare facilities and places to introduce a co-ordinated approach to the delivery of childcare services The Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme operates under three Sub-measures, providing grant assistance for capital development (Sub-measure 1), for staffing support (Sub-measure 2) and for quality improvement (Sub-measure 3). 15

18 Figure Childcare Infrastructure at National and Local Level Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform Lead department/manager of the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme (EOCP) Area Development Management Ltd (ADM) Management agent for The Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme (EOCP) Interdepartmental Synergies Committee Cross departmental/ agency co-operation Core Action Production of a County Childcare Plan based on local consultation Implementation of the plan to advance the provision of quality childcare facilities and services within their designated local area CCC actions to include quality improvement measures, e.g. training, networking, information for childcare providers and childminders, etc. including preapplication and postapproval support National Co-ordinating Childcare Committee Policy forum to oversee development of an integrated childcare infrastructure 33 County Childcare Committees To reinforce, enhance and assist in the development of a co-ordinated approach to quality childcare at local level Guiding Principles The needs and rights of children Equal opportunities and equality of access and participation Diversity Partnership Quality Subgroups Certifying Bodies Subgroup Advisory Subgroup (Children with Special Requirements, Minority Ethnic Groups and Traveller Children) Working Group on School Aged Childcare Childminders Subgroup 16

19 1.5 Ireland and the European Context As a European Union member Ireland has undertaken a range of obligations relating to the welfare of children and gender equality. The EU philosophy is that responsibility for childcare should be shared between women and men and between parents, employers and society as a whole. Equal access to good quality early years services is a goal of the European Union and good quality services are seen as a necessary part of the economic and social infrastructure. In 1996, the European Commission Network on Childcare, of which Ireland was a member, published a ten-year action programme under the title Quality Targets in Services for Young Children. This report put forward forty targets that it was believed all member states could achieve by 2006, including targets for policy, finance, levels and types of services, education and curriculum, employment and training, environment and health, working with parents and the community, and performance measurement. It should be noted that for each target area cited, one or more European countries had already achieved and implemented the criteria put forward, although no one country had already implemented all of the criteria suggested in all areas. The 2001 Employment Guidelines of the European Union further emphasised the importance of childcare provision, stating that there must be adequate provision of good quality care for children and other dependants in order to support women s and men s entry and continued participation in the labour market 16. In order to strengthen equal opportunities, Member States and the social partners will design, implement and promote family friendly policies including affordable, accessible and high quality care services for childcare and other dependants as well as parental and other leave schemes 17. It is also suggested in the 2001 Employment Guidelines that Member States consider setting a national target, in accordance with their national situation, for increasing the availability of care facilities. As mentioned above, the Irish government has established the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme to increase the availability of childcare facilities in this country thereby attaining equality objectives. 1.6 Conclusion There is a growing recognition of the Government s responsibility for co-ordinating and supporting childcare. There have been many developments in childcare over the past decade and substantial funding is now available for the development of childcare in Ireland. This report examines the provision of childcare in 1999/2000 in Ireland, as collated from the National Childcare Census and summarising national results from the 35 reports already published. It provides the baseline data against which all development in childcare since the research was carried out can be measured. The following outlines in brief the subject matter of each chapter in this report. Chapters 3 to 8 inclusive consider childcare provision in group based settings as found in the 1999/2000 Childcare Census, considering both issues of quantity and quality of provision. The focus of the chapters is as follows: Chapter 2 examines the demographic profile of the population and the economic status of women Chapter 3 explores the provision of childcare services Chapter 4 considers the usage of childcare facilities Chapter 5 discusses the organisational nature of childcare facilities Chapter 6 looks at staff and staffing issues Chapter 7 examines models of service and practices in childcare facilities Chapter 8 discusses finance issues Quote taken from 17 Quote taken from

20

21 Chapter 2 National Demographic Context Summary The demographic profile of the Irish population, especially that of the young population, has a direct impact on the demand for childcare. Data presented in this chapter show a decline in the young population of Ireland between 1986 and However recent data suggests that the steep twenty-year decline in Irish fertility rates halted in the 1990 s and birth rates are currently on the increase. The economic growth of the past decade has also brought about changes that have directly affected childcare and especially the demand for such services. More specifically, childcare needs are now regarded within the context of facilitating women s participation in employment and training opportunities, the lack of childcare having been identified as a significant barrier to female participation in the labour force. Increased and sustained participation by women in the labour force is considered in this chapter. Of particular interest in the context of childcare is the high proportion of women with young children availing of employment opportunities. 19

22 Detailed Analysis of Chapter 2 National Context 2.1 Country Profile Ireland is located in the North Atlantic, north west of the European continent and west of Great Britain. It is an island with a territory covering an area of 68,895 square kilometres with a total population of 3.74 million inhabitants. 18 Ireland is a modern western style democracy and has been a member of the European Union since National Demographic Profile Population In the population of Ireland totalled some 3,626,087 people, 1,800,232 males and 1,825,855 females (see Table 2.2.1). Population density in 1996 was 135 persons per square mile. The most densely populated areas were urban areas (3,234 persons per square mile). Rural areas (86.5 persons per square mile) were far less densely populated. The BMW region (76 persons per square mile) was also less densely populated than the S&E region (189 persons per square mile). Table National Population 1996 and CSO Statistics 2002 CSO Statistics Total Total Total Total Persons Total Total Persons Males Females 1996 Males Females 2002 BMW 487, , , , ,029 1,038,011 S&E 1,313,015 1,347,882 2,660,897 1,423,205 1,456,120 2,879,325 Urban 643, ,196 1,337, , ,441 1,410,334 Rural 1,157,157 1,131,659 2,288,816 1,263,294 1,243,708 2,507,002 National 1,800,232 1,825,855 3,626,087 1,945,187 1,972,149 3,917, Young Population According to the 1986 Census, the national population aged 12 years and under numbered 811,622. In 1996 the number in this age cohort had fallen to 657,065, representing a decrease of 19% over a ten-year period (see Table ). Nationally, of all children aged 12 and under in 1996, those aged under 1 year represented 7.4% of the total (48,854 children), while the top age range (those aged 6 to 12 years) accounted for 53.5% (351,508 children). Fifteen percent (14.9%; 97,585) of children were in the 1 to 3 year old category and 24.2% (159,118) of children were in the 3 to 6 year old category. All age groups witnessed a decrease in their populations over the decade. The largest decrease was in the 3 to 6 year old age cohort where the population fell by 23.9% (-49,988) between 1986 and The population also fell in the under 1 age group (-20.1%; -12,318), the 1 to 3 year old age group (-22.5%; -28,254) and the 6 to 12 year old age group (-15.4%; - 63,997) Central Statistics Office (1996 National Census). 19 The National Childcare Census took place at a time between two National Population Census (1996 and 2002). Data from 1996 are used as a reference point in this chapter as, at the time of publication of the current report, a detailed breakdown of 2002 figures was as yet unavailable. For comparison purposes, 2002 figures are presented where possible.

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