Bill regulating childcare services passed

The Childcare and Develop-ment Services Bill 2009 was passed by the National Assembly last Friday after it was discussed in a Special Select Committee for just under a year.

The bill is the final one of five pieces of legislation dealing with children, Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Priya Manickchand, said. The bill seeks to provide for regulating childcare services in the country and for granting licences for childcare and development services. Rules, under which those providing such services must operate, will be laid       in the House soon, Manickchand said.

PNCR Parliamentarian Cheryl Sampson expressed hope that there will be the required personnel in place to supervise and monitor operations. She pointed to the “long time” it took for the bill to return to the House and said that she hoped that no part is overlooked.

Manickchand in her final remarks accused the opposition members of “duplicitous behaviour” with regard to the time it took for the Bill to be brought back to the House. She said that opposition members were constantly absent from the Select Committee.

The bill sets out who is regarded as a caregiver, provides for registration as caregiver, provides for the maintenance of the register of caregiver or sponsor, sets out the requirements for registration and licence as a caregiver or sponsor, sets out the circumstances under which a licence maybe cancelled or suspended and provides for disqualification for a person not to be registered as a caregiver or sponsor.

The bill also provides for powers to the Childcare and Protection Agency (CPA) to inspect premises where any childcare service is being provided, requires that a caregiver or sponsor shall ensure that a child is not subject to corporal punishment or any kind of abuse, gives power to the CPA to initiate disciplinary proceedings against a caregiver or sponsor in certain circumstances.

It also provides for penalty on a caregiver or sponsor by the agency if it is satisfied that in any proceedings under a section, it is expedient and in the interests of any child to take action against him. The bill gives powers to the CPA to require a caregiver or sponsor to surrender his licence in the event of his name being removed from the register.

The bill also gives the minister certain powers and mandates that voluntary organisations register with the CPA under the provisions of the legislation.

The bill provides for the minister to make regulations for giving effect to and carrying out the provisions of the bill.

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