Dáil Éireann - Volume 417 - 10 March, 1992

Written Answers. - Childcare Services.

92. Mr. McCartan asked the Minister for Labour the steps which are being taken to implement the EC recommendation on child care signed by him in Brussels on 3 December, 1991; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Labour (Mr. Cowen): I am very pleased that the Council has adopted a recommendation on child care. This recommendation should stimulate interest in the promotion of more and better child care services and highlight the link between such provision and equality of opportunity. The recommendation will encourage initiatives on the part of a combination of interests including the public authorities, the social partners and voluntary bodies in the interests of making good quality, accessible, and affordable arrangements for the children of working parents.

I welcome in particular the acknowledgement in the recommendation of the need for the progressive development of such services. It is highly significant that the recommendation recognises the importance of harnessing the contribution [89] of a diverse range of groups — including, in their respective responsibilities, the national authorities, the social partners and other community-based interests. The thrust of the recommendation is fully in accord with the approach which the Government have adopted in promoting the provision of child care services for working parents as a shared responsibility.

The Working Party on Child Care has been studying the terms of the Council Recommendation. The report of the working party is expected shortly. The Government recently confirmed, in response to the publication of the Report No. 91 of the National Economic and Social Council on Women's Participation in the Labour Market, that it would consider the findings of the working party and will develop specific policies and mechanisms to improve child care for working parents.