Today the Isle of Man Government have published a draft Childcare Strategy as part of the delivery of Our Island Plan.
The Childcare Strategy explores the importance of childcare and early years education, how the present situation in the Isle of Man compares to other jurisdictions, and sets out a future framework to address current challenges.
Julie Edge MHK, Minister for the Department of Education, Sport and Culture, commented:
‘The overarching vision of our Island Plan is to build a secure, vibrant and sustainable future for our Island nation, where every child has access to excellent education and childcare, giving our children the best possible start in life.
‘It is widely accepted that access to quality regulated formal childcare and early education, through providers such as nurseries, playgroups and childminders, positively impacts on a child’s cognitive, physical and social and emotional development.
‘This Strategy aims to give equality of access and the right to high quality early education and childcare for all children; ensuring every parent has a choice and to provide childcare professionals with a clear vision for the future of the Island’s childcare and early education sector.’
The draft strategy has identified two strategic pillars – putting the child first and ensuring every parent has a choice. Under these pillars sit seven themes for development:
- Equality of opportunity and access
- Identification of those with adverse childhood experience
- Improve quality outcomes for children in early years
- Improving access to childcare
- Support and enable childcare providers to develop and expand
- Mitigate staffing pressures
- Enabling and supporting flexibility
Dr Alex Allinson MHK, Minister for Enterprise, commented:
‘The importance of early years childcare should not be underestimated, and for the first time we have pulled together various strands of work across Government to provide a comprehensive framework and set of actions to deliver real change in this space.
‘This includes considerations around supporting providers so that they can increase the number of places available, raising standards to include educational outcomes and importantly looking at how we can ensure parents have more choice.
‘However, this is just the start of our work. We are now issuing the draft document to promote further consultation and ensure that we have captured all of the challenges and opportunities specific to our people and businesses here in the Isle of Man. We would welcome feedback from all areas of society, and will be reaching out directly to key stakeholders including Tynwald Members, the Chamber of Commerce, and nursery and childcare providers to ensure we have an inclusive and endorsed final document.’
The draft strategy will be finalised and brought back to Tynwald in July. A public consultation will be launched later this month.