Child care

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Lone parent cut off age, visit to Sweden

The Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, was asked by Sandra McLellan (SF, Cork E) about the proposed changes to lone parent payments and her commitment to improved childcare services (Dail Eireann, Debates, 16th October 2012, w/a 17; 17th October 2012, w/a 110-111; 23rd October, w/a 158-9).   The minister told her that the Inter Departmental Group (IDG) had completed extensive work to quantify the level of school age childcare required up to and including 2015, with an examination of schemes and investments already made.  The completed model and proposals would be sent to government for approval.  Officials of her department had met with lone parent groups to discuss issues, including their initial views on child care.  In the meantime, she had had the opportunity, with her officials, to examine childcare in Sweden: she told Caoimhghin O Caolain (SF, Cavan – Monaghan) that she had visited a Regio Emilia-inspired pre-school in suburban Stockholm (Dail Eireann, Debates, 23rd October 2012, w/a 159).  Its approach was based on respect, responsibility and community through a supportive, enriching environment, with the natural development of children, parental involvement and community location.  She said that there were many aspects of the system that were very impressive, but a more detailed examination of this and other international models would be required to establish the most appropriate system for Ireland.