Dáil Éireann - Volume 515 - 07 March, 2000
Written Answers. - Child Care Committees.
Mr. McGuinness Mr. McGuinness
238. Mr. McGuinness asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the way in which county child care committees will be formed; their function and membership; and if he will be appointing members to the committees. [6700/00]
Mr. O'Donoghue Mr. O'Donoghue
Minister for Justice Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue): My Department is responsible for co-ordinating child care service delivery over the course of the national development plan, 2000 to 2006. A number of structures are being established at national and local levels including an interdepartmental “synergies” committee which is chaired by my Department to focus on co-operation and co-ordination between Departments and State agencies with a role in child care, and a national co-ordinating child care committee chaired by my Department to oversee the development of an integrated child care infrastructure throughout the country. The committee has met on three occasions to date; county child care committees to advance child care service provision at local levels.
The county child care committees will link into the national co-ordinating child care committee on local child care needs and activities. The national co-ordinating child care committee is currently drawing up the guidelines for the operation of the county child care committees.
The health boards will be responsible for ensuring that the county child care committees are established. My Department has initiated a series of briefing sessions with the health boards in this regard. The process of developing the practical steps for this is under way. The committees will be subject to the guidelines drawn up by the national co-ordinating child care committee, which is chaired by my Department. Membership will be dictated by the local situation and it is expected that the social partners will be involved.
 It is intended that the committees should comprise a wide representation of child care interests in the relevant county. The membership might include the health board, local authority, social partners, VEC, FÁS or local employment service, area partnership, National Voluntary Childcare Organisation, a representative of community groups active in the development of child care in the area, a representative of child care providers, community and private, a representative of parents and any other membership considered desirable.
The tasks being assigned to the county child care committees are as follows: development of a co-ordinated approach to child care provision in the area over the next seven years; development of a local child care information strategy; development of quality statements and targets for the county; identification of local black spots in the provision of child care and proposals for alleviating the position; promotion of the establishment of new child care facilities; identification of priority objectives for the county; liaising with the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and with the national co-ordinating child care committee regarding local developments; development of local and county wide networks of child care providers; and assessing needs and proposing initiatives that might be specific to that county.
It is intended that where county child care committees are in place they will be consulted about funding applications for the relevant county this year. I envisage that the roles of the national and local structures involved will evolve over time. It is my belief that the role of the county child care committees will prove to be pivotal in the context of local needs-led planning involving consultation and participative planning of all the stakeholders in relation to a co-ordinated approach to child care provision at both local and national level. The establishment of the county child care committees is expected to progress throughout the year.
Dáil Éireann 515 Written Answers. Child Care Committees.