Childcare chief wants private creches to pay ‘significant registration fee’

Gordon Jeyes says money generated could be used for training

 

The man responsible for state supervision of early childhood services in Ireland wants to introduce a “ significant registration fee” for all private creches and preschools.

Gordon Jeyes, the chief executive-designate of the Child and Family Agency, said the money generated could be used for training and the improvement of services.

Writing in The Irish Times today , Mr Jeyes described the present status-quo as “scarcely child-centred”.

He said too much early childcare is based on economic necessity for parents and it is recognised not as a common good but as a private contract.

Mr Jeyes said inspections of crèche services will be run in future as a national rather than local service and the maximum time between inspections will be 20 months which is currently the average.

He promised a “clearly articulated early-years strategy” and acknowledged “the children of Ireland deserve more than what is now on offer”.

He said the biggest issue was not the inspection of childhood facilities but enforcement. Such enforcement should be possible without always needing the redress of the courts, he maintained.

He said early years service providers have been asked to detail policy in connection with local centre governance and accountability, parent partnership, training arrangements and staff meetings and supervision.

In response Early Childhood Ireland, which represents the crèche and afterschool providers sector, welcomed Mr Jeyes’ comments particularly when he said that early childhood facilities should be a “celebration of the joy and playfulness of childhood.”

They said they were still waiting for an outline of targets, timelines and investment to make this a reality and warned that the costs of a proper childhood services should come from the State rather from the sector and parents.

Early Childhood Ireland chief executive Irene Gunning said they would welcome a national inspection system because the present inspection regime is not consistent across the country.

Ms Gunning said a registration fee for early childhood services was common in jurisdictions such as the UK and the fee is usually around €200 to €300.

She added: “However, this fee will never be enough to cover the cost of the reforms to the system which we need at the moment.

“When having this whole discussion it must be recognised that only 5 per cent of the notified services in the country are chains. All the rest employ on average of five people and look after 30 children.”

It was revealed in The Irish Times that the Government allowed an increase in the ratio of children in a crèche per childcare worker from 10 to 11.