“Thirty three City and County Childcare Committees were established in 2001 under the Office of the Minister for Children to help support the development of childcare locally.
The current role of the Committees is to assist the Department of Children and Youth Affairs in improving and expanding the quality of childcare services available to parents in their area. The Committees offer information and guidance locally on a wide variety of services including advice on establishing a childcare business, organising childcare information sessions, and supporting parents by providing information on local facilities and parent networks. The Committees also have a significant role in the delivery of a range of childcare support programmes which are currently implemented by my Department.
Each Committee submits an annual implementation plan which outlines its strategy for the year and the annual funding level is determined on the basis of this plan. The implementation plan provides for a range of activities to be undertaken by the committees and identifies locally focused initiatives which are designed to address specific local needs. In 2014, a total of just over €10 million has been allocated.
The Committees have played an important role in the development of childcare services throughout the country since their introduction in 2001. They have worked closely with this Department and previously with the Office of the Minister of Children in co-ordinating the increase in the number of child care places in their areas. The introduction of the additional support programmes and the expansion of the existing programmes have significantly increased the work load undertaken by the Committees.
The Committees will continue to play a key role in the ongoing development of childcare services and will have a central role in supporting the implementation of new and emerging childcare policy developments, including in the area of quality improvements. Future developments with respect to Childcare Committee can be further considered in the context of the establishment, this year, of a new National Quality Support Service for early years and childcare services, which form a key objective of my 8 point agenda to improve quality standards in early yeas and childcare services.
Increasingly, the Department works collectively with the Committees and also with other bodies such as the Child and Family Agency and Pobal to ensure effective delivery of services and to avoid duplication. In this context, the Committees have established a representative body, Childcare Committees Ireland to contribute to better co-ordination of the work of the Committees. This group meets regularly with my Department and with Pobal to progress developments and ensure consistency and is a significant contributor to collaborative working in the early years sector.”