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Childcare Moves Afoot

6.23.2005

Interesting to see Mick Mac yesterday take some notice of the full title of his office and bring forward plans to invest in some form of School-Age childcare initiative for working parents. I'll come clean and say that childcare is not a topic which affects me yet but at some stage i will desire astrong and caring system available to allow me to work etc.
The proposal seems to take a few ideas from Ruth Kelly in the UK and try to implement a scheme which uses schoools as after care facilities aswell. THis on paper is fine but the points raised by labour make for some discomforting reading.
The implication in their release is that much of the care in this sector is unregulated and that it is not part of some broader strategic vision but merely a play as you go approach to child care. To be honest this is an unacceptable government position should it be the case. however to give some benefit of the doubt at least there is some support for around 5000 kids in 41 places and projects aorund the country.
Yup 5000 that to me is a small number, i think there are far more that require supervison and care in a sound environment. In the UK they are stting aside around 600 million to provide this service of opening up schools early and leaving them till late to provide an environment for homework and sport. I fully support such action where parent have an option which is of benefit to kids. The point is in the UK they reckon 600 million is not enough. We got E40 million (30 Million Pounds).
THis project pales in comparison both in terms of vision and of commitment. The delivery of childcare services is expensive but on any evaluation always worthwhile. I understand that through the NDP we have 400 million set aside for capital provision but it makes sense to consider that much of that is directed at school development aswell as they will now operate a dual role.
It is the accusation that government lacks a direction or even a big idea on child care that is most deeply damaging to the credibility of this project. I agree with Labour that regulation must be ensured to protect the child and more places provided.
As always the best way to do this is through a strategy and planned delivery. Of course the places are going to be welcomed by those who get them but it is provision of affordable and even state paid-for care that is the requirement for those who are squeezed and cannto afford it.
RR

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