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Two girls playing in a playground - What is school age childcare?

SAC Consultation Update

July 9, 2019

Early Childhood Ireland responded to the Department of Children & Youth Affair’s Public Consultation on Regulations and a Quality Improvement Framework for School Age Childcare by completing the Department’s online survey and a separate written submission.

In developing our response, Early Childhood Ireland consulted members providing school age childcare at four regional events in Kildare, Dublin, Galway and Cork. We also invited members to let us know their thoughts and experiences of the initial regulations and draft standards via our own online questionnaire. Feedback we received from members providing school age childcare directly informed both the online survey and our written submission. 

Members highlighted the importance of making a clear distinction between early years and school age childcare as very different sectors requiring different regulatory approaches. Children age 4 to 12 attend school age childcare and have a diverse range of needs depending on their developmental and educational stage. As such, the regulations need to consider the needs of the child and enable providers to create inclusive and accessible spaces that nurture children’s well-being and development through adequate opportunities for play, rest and leisure.

Through our engagement, we found that 82% of our school age childcare members currently operate a ratio of 1:12 or less. However, we recognise that in the absence of any statutory regulation many providers were offering a higher ratio and will have to amend their service provision to comply with the regulation. In our submission we called on the Department to provide a transition period to provide members with adequate time to plan and make any necessary changes.

We see the introduction of an appropriate qualification framework as an opportunity for the Department to enhance quality throughout the sector by investing in the professionalisation of the workforce.

We are concerned that the introduction of the National Childcare Scheme will reduce the number of hours of subsidised childcare available to children at each education stage and are seeking a meeting with the Department of Children & Youth Affairs as a matter of urgency to clarify the impact of the scheme.

We hope you were able to make your own views heard through the public consultation. We will continue to keep you up to date with any developments relating to school age childcare and the National Childcare Scheme. We will also continue to raise any issues you may have with the Department of Children & Youth Affairs.

Please get in touch with us via policy@earlychildhoodireland.ie if you have any issues or concerns about the forthcoming regulation of school age childcare.  

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