26 January 2010

Fitzgerald urges parents to apply for pre-school year and calls for more info from Minister

Fine Gael Senator Frances Fitzgerald has questioned whether parents are being fully informed of their entitlement to the free pre-school year scheme. Senator Fitzgerald has urged parents of eligible children to ensure that they enrol for the scheme and called on the Children’s Minister to put more effort into promoting the scheme and informing parents.

“Families have been hit hard by Government cutbacks with the removal of the early childcare supplement and the cuts imposed on child benefit. The free pre-school year was intended to make up in some part for these cutbacks but I believe there are several issues with the scheme.

“Does every parent in Clondalkin and Lucan know about the scheme and are places available locally for them? There is a dearth of information coming from the Minister and it seems he is not in a position to provide vital detail on vacancies because he will not have returns from the pre-school providers until after the deadline for parents has closed. This is clearly a problem in his system for notifying vacancies.

“It is essential that the Minister co-ordinates information on applying and on vacancies so that parents can access it easily before the deadline on the 20th January. It is also extremely important that, in tandem with the Early Child Care and Education Scheme, we make certain we are maintaining quality and standards in childcare provision.”