Tuesday, 3 December 1996
Dáil Éireann Debate
67. Mr. N. Ahern asked the Minister for Health his views on the request for a once off grant to service providers of child care facilities in view of the new regulations on pre-school services which will greatly increase the cost for service providers. [23350/96]
86. Mr. N. Ahern asked the Minister for Health his views on the request for a once off grant to service providers of child care facilities in view of the new regulations on pre-school services which will greatly increase the cost for service providers. [23352/96]
Minister of State at the Department of Health (Mr. Currie): Part VII of the Child Care Act, 1991, provides for the supervision and inspection by health boards of pre-school services. New regulations, which will give effect to the provisions of Part VII, will come into operation at the end of this year. These regulations will apply to pre-schools, playgroups, day nurseries, creches and other similar services which cater for children under six years of age. The purpose of the regulations is to secure the health, safety and welfare of pre-school children and to promote the development of children attending pre-school services.
A working group was established earlier this year within my Department to prepare draft guidelines on standards for pre-school services. These guidelines will form the basis of the regulations to be made under Part VII of the Act. The group is representative of my Department, the Department of Education, the health boards, the DHSS in Northern Ireland and a number of voluntary organisations which are involved in pre-school provision.
A draft set of regulations was recently made available to the public for consultation purposes. Submissions from the public will be given full consideration in the context of finalising the new regulations.
It is not possible to quantify the costs that may arise for some service providers in complying with the new regulations. Health boards provide financial supports to certain pre-school services which cater for children who are regarded as being at risk or disadvantaged. This function is in keeping with the board's overall responsibilities in regard to the promotion of the welfare of children and provision of family support services. The policy of supporting certain pre-school services will continue in the future and may include financial assistance to upgrade premises associated with such services.
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