Council of Women asks if childcare centres are the only solution

The National Council of Women welcomes the document ‘Early Childhood education and car in Malta’ and agrees with it as the way forward. The proposal in the electoral manifesto of the government to offer childcare for under three year olds, free of charge, can be an incentive to women seeking employment.

As per the Barcelona targets (2002) EU member states agreed to: remove disincentives to female labour force participation and strive, taking into account the demand for childcare facilities and in line with national patterns of provision, to provide childcare by 2010 to at least 90% of children between three years old and the mandatory school age and at least 33% of children under three years of age.

The document, which is in line with a number of the recommendations of a study carried out by the National Council of Women in collaboration with Dr Valerie Sollars a few  years ago, also recommends that Malta should take action within the period 2013-2014, in order to continue to support women in participating in the labour market.

The National Council of Women feels that this is not solely a woman’s issue but rather a family issue and both parents should be able to avail themselves of this possibility should the need arise.  Traditionally the grandparents or other family members roped in to offer free childcare to families with children under three years and  older, so that, generally the mother, could  return to work.

“Childcare facilities should not be seen as ‘warehousing’ of children but a place where the child is well cared for, stimulated to learn and given the necessary attention. NCW believes that In line with current regulations crucial aspects in childcare facilities are- the adult /child ratio as well as qualified staff, so that the facilities will not just offer childcare, but high quality childcare.  All childcare facilities should be registered to ensure regulations are observed. All parents want to do the best they can for their children, since these children will eventually grow into responsible adults.  It is for this reason that one must make sure that these facilities offer optimal care, a growth promoting environment filled with social interactions with an attentive caregiver. The introduction of child minding with specific regulations to ensure a quality service, can offer another form of childcare service.”

The National Council of Women emphasises the absolute need for staff to be well trained, as being a carer for a child in its formative years is of utmost importance. Men should be encouraged to take up relevant courses also as men have excellent caring skills that we often see particularly in fathers  It has been established that childcare facilities that are stress free, offer the child a place where he or she can develop.

The White Paper offers seven recommendations all of which are equally valid and important. However one must not forget the human element. The document refers to an integrated system rather than a split system, and that the different age groups fall under the auspices of the same ministry, thus enabling the different age groups to move from one phase to another without any problems.  Details of the child/adult ratio, a system that is already in place but needs to be revised, must also be given due attention, since the younger the child, the more care is required and hence the smaller the number of children in ratio to  one carer. 

The focal point in the setting up of free childcare, is an initiative that makes it easier and possible for women to return to work and, although the White Paper addresses childcare facilities, it does not address the issue of matching time frames of childcare provision with working hours of both parents, precisely  that  of children  older than five years. Babies and toddlers grow up and women will still need to go to work when children are in kindergarten or in primary school. The National Council of Women feels that a holistic approach must be taken including addressing the issue of the summer months when schools are closed. A possible solution would require an increase in staff and adequate facilities that perhaps can be set up through private/public partnerships. The National Council of Women confirms that the initiative is welcome as long as great care is taken in ensuring professional and high quality care for the children.

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Council of Women asks if childcare centres are the only solution
childcare – Yahoo News Search Results
childcare – Yahoo News Search Results

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