A Parent's Guide to the Child Care (Pre-School Services) Regulations 2006

Barnardos. (2007). A Parent's Guide to the Child Care (Pre-School Services) Regulations 2006. https://knowledge.barnardos.ie/handle/20.500.13085/240
The Government has a key role to play in ensuring the systems are in place for regulating childcare. Regulation aims to ensure that childcare services meet suitable standards. But parents, with their unique knowledge of their own children, have to determine what care is best for their own child. Looking after children’s safety and development through childcare must therefore be a shared responsibility of Government, childcare providers and parents. Childcare services make it possible for parents, especially women, to take up jobs and education and the number of parents in Ireland who need childcare is growing. Even parents who can provide full-time care for their children themselves occasionally need help with childcare or believe it is good for their children to play and learn with other children. But parents should not settle for just any childcare. During the early years it is especially important that children have a quality childcare experience that addresses their developmental needs. Research shows that children who attend quality early childcare and education settings benefit through improved cognitive (thinking, reasoning), language and social development. Quality care and education can help to protect children from the adverse effects of living in at-risk families or disadvantaged homes so these children can benefit even more. Barnardos has been actively lobbying for the introduction of free, quality childcare places for all children for one year prior to starting primary school, 4 and for the roll out of these places to begin with children experiencing disadvantage. ‘The positive relation between childcare quality and virtually every facet of children’s development is one of the most consistent findings in developmental science.’1 Children who participate in quality early childhood programmes learn better and are more successful in school. The law in Ireland provides for the regulation and inspection of pre-school childcare services under the Child Care Act, 1991. Pre-school children in Ireland are defined by law as ‘children under 6 years of age, who are not attending a national school’. Pre-school childcare services include pre-schools, play groups, day nurseries, crèches, childminders or other similar services catering for pre-school children. The purpose of this guide is to provide parents and guardians of young children with information about the Pre-School Regulations, 2006. These Regulations, made under the Child Care Act, 1991, came into effect in September 2007. The aim of these Regulations is to improve childcare standards and to ensure the health, safety and welfare of pre-school children, as well as promoting their development while attending pre-school services. The Government can ensure consistent levels of quality across all childcare services by legally requiring them to meet basic standards. It is important to remember, though, that there is more to quality childcare than just meeting legal requirements. This guide also provides information about childcare quality and the importance of play for young children.