Dáil Éireann - Volume 496 - 10 November, 1998
Written Answers. - Early Childhood Education.
Mr. O'Shea Mr. O'Shea
450. Mr. O'Shea asked the Minister for Education and Science the proposals, if any, he has  to expand the VTOS Early Start and Breaking the Cycle programmes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22862/98]
Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin) Micheál Martin
Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin): I am currently considering future policy development in the area of early childhood education. In this context, in March last I hosted a National Forum for Early Childhood Education to allow all groups with an interest in the area of early childhood education to put forward their views as to how best to co-ordinate and support the future development of services in this area.
Following this extensive consultation process, officials in my Department have now commenced work on a White Paper, which will set out the Government's policy in the area of early childhood education.
The operation of the Breaking the Cycle pilot project is being monitored by my Department's inspectorate and is also being evaluated by the Education Research Centre. The question of further expansion of the scheme will be considered in the light of the findings of the evaluation report.
The vocational education opportunities scheme, which is specifically targeted at adults who are unemployed for at least six months, has a total of 5,000 sanctioned places. The question of an expansion of the scheme is being examined in the light of the take-up of places achieved to date and an overall review of the scheme. In the interim, a number of enhancements have been introduced. These include an equalisation of allowances with those payable under the back to education allowance scheme, the removal of the 10 per cent quota which limited participation of lone parents, those with disabilities and dependent spouses and the introduction of a new childcare measure.
Dáil Éireann 496 Written Answers. Early Childhood Education.