Quality matters for children. Budget 2016 funds a number of measures to build the quality of childcare provision, including:
• Audit of childcare quality: to provide a solid evidence base on which to build quality. Regular audits over time will measure the impact of investment on higher quality;
• Learner Fund: further investment in the Learner Fund will help Ireland’s childcare sector to move towards the professionalised workforce that characterises high quality childcare systems;
• Síolta Quality Assurance: independent accreditation under the Síolta programme provides an objective quality mark. Funding in Budget 2016 will support further roll-out of the quality assurance programme, so that more children benefit from high quality care.
• Enhanced inspection: an expanded childcare inspection team to monitor compliance with new childcare regulations to be introduced shortly, and to build the education-focused inspections which DCYA began funding this year.
The funding of €3.5m provided for these quality measures in 2016 will be built upon over coming years.