JIS News

The Regulations, which will guide the enforcement of the Early Childhood Act, should be in place by next month.
Executive Chairman of the Early Childhood Commission, Dr. Maureen Samms Vaughn, told JIS News that the introduction of the Regulations depend on the recruitment and training of some 35 early childhood inspectors.
The inspectors, who will be engaged from November 1, will be responsible for evaluating and providing technical support to all early childhood institutions (ECIs) including day care centres, pre-schools, basic and infant schools across the island. “We have just completed the administrative processes and the inspectors will be engaged from November 1 and then they will go through a period of training,” Dr. Samms Vaughn said.
“This is a new profession in the country and the inspectors will have to ensure that all ECIs adhere to the established standards. They will have to look, for example, at safety, how teachers are interacting with the students and the condition of the kitchen,” she pointed out.
She said that the training period is for three weeks, with modules provided by specialists in each particular area that the inspectors will be required to examine when they visit the institutions.
“They will have to know the Public Health Law as well as the Fire Department Regulation, so it is necessary that they undergo extensive training because they will have to acquire a wide range of skills,” she told JIS News.
According to the Executive Chair, once a date has been set for the Regulations to come into effect, all ECIs are required to submit an application form with supporting documents to the ECC within 90 days. Following the submission, the ECC will then set a date for inspection.
“It is important that they [operators of ECIs] recognize that we have some 2,700 institutions and only 35 inspectors. This is a new process so we expect that some institutions will be hearing from us very quickly while it is going to take a much longer time for others, so we are asking them to be patient with us as we get to their institutions,” she informed.
In the meanwhile, Dr. Samms Vaughn noted that the Commission will be providing pre-registration packages that will help to guide operators of ECIs to meet the requirements of the new standards in order to be registered.
“Based on our preliminary research, we identified that there were particular areas where schools were quite lacking, for example, they are required to have safety, disaster and sanitation plans. What we have done is to develop templates for nearing the time that the registration call is made, we will have what we call pre-registration packages that will help to guide operators,” she explained.
The institutions will be able to use the templates and develop their own plans. To this end, Dr. Samms-Vaughn noted that the ECC has also conducted training with the early childhood education officers, who will be working with the schools, to customize the plans based on their specific needs.
“A school that is beside a river will have a different safety concern than the school that is close to a road, so the education officers have been going through training programmes that allow them to assist the schools to tweak the templates that we have developed,” she pointed out.
In order to assist operators with registration, Dr. Samms Vaughn said that teams will be placed in parishes to collect application forms to avoid “everyone having to come into Kingston. We will be placing advertisements in the newspapers to say when the ECC team will be in a particular parish to facilitate persons coming to meet with that we can collect the forms. She explained that the ECC is trying to make the process as smooth and as simple as possible.
The Early Childhood Act, which was passed in 2005, provides a comprehensive framework for all aspects of early childhood development in Jamaica, including regulations, policies and standards to govern early childhood institutions.