O’Reilly pushes for second Free Pre-School year

Fine Gael TD for Cavan/Monaghan,  Deputy Joe O’Reilly, is working with the Department of Education towards the introduction of an additional, free pre-school year.

“For some time I have been in contact with my colleagues in Government advocating for the introduction of an additional, free pre-school year. The new National Early Years Strategy is considering future developments relating to early years care and the report advising this strategy has recommended that the free pre-school provision be extended. This can only happen after achieving higher quality standards, more investment in training and mentoring, and professionalisation of the Early Years workforce.

“The Minister for Children, James Reilly, is in agreement with me that the introduction of a second year would improve children’s educational and developmental outcomes, as there is an increasing body of Irish and International evidence quantifying the benefits. The introduction of a second pre-school year would require considerable additional funding of approximately €175 million per year. While this money is not available at present, but I am committed to continuing to push for this change as the economy recovers.

“Despite the challenging budgetary situation, the pre-school year has been maintained by this Government ensuring that children, who otherwise would not have the opportunity, can avail of quality pre-school services. Last year 68,000 children availed of the free pre-school year provision. In Cavan, the County Childcare Committee which is the point of contact for parents, continues to do excellent work in providing support for those wishing to avail of the free pre-school year.

“As well as maintaining the free preschool year, Budget 2014 provided €4.5 million to improve the quality of preschool services. A Learner Fund to assist existing staff meet the new qualification requirements will be introduced in September 2015, a Quality Support Service will be established and Early Years Inspectors are being recruited. €2.5 million has also been allocated to 163 community childcare providers.
“A second free pre-school year would represent €2,500 to €3,000 worth of free childcare to parents and would be likely to generate 4,000-5,000 new jobs.

“Our young people deserve the best and as it has been shown that an extra year of pre-school positively impacts on development, this is something I am dedicated to pursuing.”

Senator Joe O'Reilly representing Cavan & Monaghan 2010. | An ExSite website