New guidelines ratified for early childhood care

| 11/09/2013

(CNS): As part of the goal to improve the quality of care for pre-school kids the Education Council has ratified the Guidelines for Early Childhood Care and Education Centres (2013). The Guidelines contain information on the registration and re-registration processes for centres and the policies and practices required in the operation of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Centres.  The Guidelines build on previous regulatory work by early childhood professionals, inclusive of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Regional Guidelines and international best practice as well as the pioneering work of Marjorie Beckles. 
Prior to these Guidelines being developed, ECCE centres were governed under guidelines which were published in 2002. 

“Caring for our young children is an amazing responsibility.  We must ensure that they are protected and stimulated,” said the Education, Employment and Gender Affairs, consellor Winston Connolly as he stood in as temporary minister recently. He added that the guidelines were essential tools in ensuring a high standard of care for each child in the early childhood centres.

“Parents and Centre owners can now also be reassured that they are all being inspected and registered and re-registered using clear and transparent processes.  I trust the Early Childhood Care and Education Unit to work alongside each centre to help them meet and exceed these requirements,” he said.

Beckles who was a pioneer in early childhood issues in the Cayman Islands was described as being “years ahead of her time,” Carol Bennett, Senior Policy Advisor and Manager of the Early Childhood Care and Education Unit explained that her input had informed the guidelines along with international best practice which speaks to adult to child ratio and space requirements for children in early childhood centres

The 2013 Guidelines provide information to prospective early childhood centre owners regarding the process to register an early childhood centre with the Education Council.  They also outline the re-registration process for ECCE centres that are already in operation.  Information about care and education provision, premises and facilities, health and safety and leadership and management are included in the document to ensure all stakeholders in early childhood education are aware of the process and expectations of managing and maintaining high standards of provision for the children they are responsible for. 

Representatives from Public Health, Department of Environmental Health, Trade and Business Licensing, Fire Services, Education Quality Assurance Unit, Department of Children and Family Services and the Planning Department were involved in developing the registration and re-registration processes. 

Officials said Information from each agency is compiled in the Guidelines so that all stakeholders can be aware of standards and expectations for the centres.  Owners and managers of the ECCE centres may use the sample forms and policies in the document, as templates for developing the requirements for their centres. 

The Acting Chief Officer for Education, Employment and Gender Affairs. Christen Suckoo recently said there were exciting times are ahead for early childhood in the Cayman Islands.  “We look forward to the positive thrust these Guidelines will give us in ensuring all our children are equally provided for and that their health and wellbeing are protected,” he said.
Current Centre operators and principals of government schools with reception programmes will be invited to the launch of the revised guidelines, where they will be explained as well as the process for re-registration that will resume in the near future.

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