Yesterday my colleague and I attended the launch of 'Irish Childcare in Recession?', an analysis of the 2009 NCNA members' survey.
A key issue highlighted during the launch was the potential impact of the recession on the quality of services. Amongst those surveyed the recession has been making itself felt through an increased level of vacancies in services, cuts in the numbers of staff employed within services, a reduction in the fees that service providers charge, and a fall in the number of inspections of services. Some of the service providers who spoke during the meeting said that they were concerned that these changes could impact on the quality of services that children are accessing.
While making our way back to the office we started to talk about the challenges in balancing the delivery of a quality service to children while also maintaining a viable business - challenges which must be getting increasingly difficult for private service providers.
We have not yet had a significant debate in Ireland on the balancing act of providing what is essentially a public service through the private sector. Other countries manage to achieve that balancing act, and if we are to do so maybe we should start talking about what that involves.
Our consultation on a vision for Children 2020 will be starting shortly. Maybe this could be the arena in which we can have a debate about how we can provide quality sustainable services and supports for the children of Ireland?