Budget 2013 changes affecting School Age Childcare
The Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton T.D., and Minister Frances Fitzgerald T.D.,have announced a new After-School Childcare Scheme. This joint initiative will provide over 6,000 afterschool childcare places for children in primary school, beginning with a pilot scheme in early 2013. The places will be targeted at low-income families and will support parents availing of an employment opportunity.
What is School Age Childcare?
School Age Childcare (SAC) has been defined as:
“childcare for school going children provided outside of normal school hours, where the same children attend the childcare facility on a regular basis and access to the service is clearly defined by agreement with parents and guardians.”
School-Age Childcare Services refer to a range of organised, age-appropriate, structured programmes, clubs and activities for school-age children and young people (4-18) which take place within supervised environments, during the times that they are not in school.
Different types of School Age Childcare Services
These out-of-school services can take place before school, after school, at weekends, during lunch time and during school holidays, and they can be offered in a variety of different ways and in different settings.
For instance there are after school services…
attached to schools
community-based after school projects
childcare facilities providing after school services
school holiday programmes
Regulation and Guidelines for School Age Childcare in Ireland
School Age Childcare (SAC) is an emerging sector in Ireland.
Preschool services are regulated through the Preschool Services Regulations 2006, however, no such regulations exist to support those working in the school age childcare sector.
A number of reports on childcare have been produced in the last decade, the most significant of these being the 2005 report ‘Developing School-Age Childcare’ from the working group in the Childcare Directorate in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform (DJELR).
The report offered a series of recommendations, including the implementation of regulations for the SAC sector. The report also recommended an amendment to the primary legislation (Child Care Act 1991) to encompass the regulation of SAC.
As there are currently no statutory regulations that apply to the provision of SAC, the sector in Ireland remains self-regulated, resulting in variable standards of provision.
In the absence of national regulations or system of regulation we would recommend that services use the following report as a guide, alongside the 2006 Childcare Regulations and other legislation that applies.
Developing School Age Childcare
- Working Group of the National Childcare Co-ordinating Committee– June 2005
A number of key elements contribute to the delivery of a quality school age childcare service.
the activity programme and the importance of play
the physical environment
the regulation of school age childcare
training for the sector
relationships between providers of school age childcare, the children, their parents and their communities