Operating Model Review calls for single State Agency for our Sector

Operating Model Review calls for single State Agency for our Sector
How should we compare early learning and care systems?

At the end of March, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman, published the Independent Review of the Operating Model – undertaken by Indecon Economic Consultants that recommends major reform to the Operating Model for Early Learning and Care (ELC) and School-Age Childcare (SAC).

The publication of the review was a commitment by the government outlined in First 5, the Whole-of-Government Strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families.

The review undertook to:

  • Assess the current operating model for ELC and SAC; and
  • Identify and appraise the options for reform.

The review looked at the strengths and weaknesses in the existing operating model and identified and assessed seven potential alternative operating models for the Early Learning and Care (ELC) and School-Age Childcare (SAC). Based on the application of the specific appraisal criteria, Option 1 (establishment of a new statutory agency) achieved the highest score among the seven alternative options examined.

The Review concluded that a dedicated State Agency is the optimal operating model for ELC and SAC. This Agency would be responsible for functions currently undertaken by Pobal (Early Years), Better Start and the CCC, as well as the operational functions currently undertaken by the DCEDIY.

In Early Childhood Ireland’s Pre-Budget Submission 2020 we called for the establishment of a single, dedicated Early Years and School Age Childcare Agency, responsible for coordinating and integrating quality assurance, planning and administrative work across the early years sector. This would drastically improve the current situation whereby work is fragmented and delivered by a variety of different agencies and departments. Currently, our members report to 7 different agencies and departmental areas.

Current Early Years System

 

We were pleased that the government committed to the delivery of the single agency, Childcare Ireland in the Programme for Government and now in its acceptance of the conclusion of the operational review.

Proposed Early Years System

 

We hope that the implementation of Childcare Ireland will support the delivery of accessible, affordable and high-quality services for children and their families under the programme of investment and reform of the sector currently underway.

A Project Team has been established by the Department tasked for further detailed analysis, planning, consultation and engagement with key stakeholders to assess how this recommendation can best be implemented. Early Childhood Ireland will be monitoring the progress of this commitment to our invaluable sector. Our Policy Team is available to answer questions on the topics raised here.

The full operational review is available here.

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