More than 2,500 pre- school inspection reports are now online, Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald has revealed.
The move followed a spate of controversies surrounding nurseries which prompted demands for government action.
“Delivering improvements in pre-school quality standards and staff qualifications is an absolute prerequisite to any further extension of universal childcare provision, including any proposal to introduce a second free pre-school year,” Ms Fitzgerald told the Dáil.
The minister said a new joint project with Social Protection aims to help low-income families where a parent is in a community employment (CE) scheme: “The new scheme will operate on a similar basis to my department’s existing CETS (Childcare Education and Training Support) scheme and is expected to provide an additional 1,800 subsidised places for CE workers... €9.5m is being provided in 2014 for these schemes.”
The minister also announced a review of major childcare schemes.
Fianna Fáil spokesman on children Robert Troy said: “There is scope for the Government to provide a direct payment through the Family Income Supplement (FIS) to address childcare costs, to widen the range of childcare options available to low-income working families and to introduce a new tax break for working families with children whose income is marginally above the FIS limits.
“[Irish] early childhood policy acts as an enormous barrier to working families and to women in particular. As a society we urgently need to address the cost of childcare.”
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