Childcare for the Canal Communities: A Feasibility Study on Behalf of the Canal Communities Partnership

Morris, M. (1997). Childcare for the Canal Communities: A Feasibility Study on Behalf of the Canal Communities Partnership.
The area covered by the Canal Communities Partnership comprises Bluebell, Inchicore North and South, Islandbridge, Kilmainham and Rialto. The Partnership’s Area Action Plan 1997-2000 provides a detailed socio-economic profile of the area based on figures from the 1991 Census. These are the statistics referred to in this overview and elsewhere in this study. According to the 1991 Census the total population for the Canal Communities Partnership area was 13,079. In terms of deprivation, with the exception of part of Inchicore, all the areas in the Partnership have a Mean Rank Factor Score of 10 on a scale of 1 to 10 for disadvantage. Part of East Inchicore, which is the exception referred to above, has a Mean Rank Factor of 8. The Area Action Plan describes the area as having “a depressing litany of deprivation indicators”. As the focus of this study is on the provision of childcare facilities to enable the most disadvantaged sections of the community avail of training, education or employment the following indicators of deprivation are particularly relevant. These are based on the 1991 Census. Lone parent families account for 40% of all family units in the area, over twice that of the national average (15.5%). Of these parents, 42.9% have children under fifteen years of age i.e. nearly four times higher than the national average of 10.8%. The Partnership area as a whole had an unemployment rate of 29.4% with indications that the 1996 figures are significantly higher than this. Both the male and female rates of unemployment were recorded at almost twice the national average. Moreover, the number of unemployed people in receipt of social welfare assistance indicates that nearly three quarters of the unemployed in the area are long term unemployed or have never worked. According to the 1991 Census 53% of the Partnership population ceased their education before or at the age of fifteen compared to a national average of 36.1%. Only 4% of the population continued education after nineteen years of age compared to the national average of 8.2% and regional average of 10.6%. For the purpose of this study it is also important to understand the background to the establishment of the Canal Communities Partnership. In 1993 neither Bluebell nor any part of Inchicore were included, initially, as one of the intended areas for new partnership developments. Meanwhile Rialto had already compiled an Area Action Plan with a view to joining the Dublin Inner City Partnership. When these areas, as well as Islandbridge and Kilmainham, were eventually designated for development as one Area Partnership it brought together four communities which see themselves as distinct in their own right and separate from each other. Prior to the establishment of the Area Partnership Company (APC) in 1996 a community consultation process was undertaken by Community Action Network (CAN) on behalf of the Partnership Advisory Group. It became evident during that process that each of the areas within the Partnership has its own strong and separate identity, that they each have a different experience of community development and that until now there has been little contact between them. “Physically, it is a small area, but in the minds of many, it is large with its parts distant from each other” (Community Consultation : Report from CAN to Partnership Advisory Group. March 1996) Taking into account this lack of one clear identity within the area CAN recommended that the Partnership Board work through four local Networks while at the same time establish working groups dealing with single issues across all four Network areas. These Network areas are Bluebell, Rialto, South Inchicore, known locally as East Inchicore, and North Inchicore, known locally as Oblates Inchicore. In view of these structures this study will examine existing childcare provision and childcare needs on a Network by Network basis. In line with its terms of reference research will concentrate on the “most disadvantaged groups and communities” within the Partnership area. These groups and communities are for the most part found in the local authority flats complexes.