JIS News

Thirty-five inspectors will be trained for the early childhood sector to evaluate and provide technical support to all Early Childhood Institutions (ECIs) across the island.
This training, to be carried out by the Early Childhood Commission, is in keeping with the requirements of the Early Childhood Act and its Regulations and is a precursor to its implementation, which is expected to take effect later this year.
Speaking with JIS News, Executive Chair of the Early Childhood Commission, Professor Maureen Samms-Vaughan said that the ECC would be dispatching inspectors across the island once the mandatory registration of all ECIs begins, which is a requirement under the Act.
She said that the primary function of the inspectors would be to ensure that all ECI’s, (day care centres, pre-schools, basic and infant schools) adhere to the established standards, which emanated from the Regulations.
“Once the law has been enacted which is slated to take place later this year, all early childhood institutions will be required to apply for registration within 90 days of enactment of the law and once that happens, a date for inspection will be made, the application comes into the ECC and one of the inspectors will contact the school regarding an inspection,” she informed.
In addition to assessing the state of early childhood institutions and their eligibility to obtain certificates of registration from the ECC, she pointed out that inspectors would also offer technical advice to the operators and teachers or caregivers of these institutions, as this pertains to meeting the standards.
“The inspector will visit the school and will identify the areas where the school meets the requirements of the law.and will also identify the areas that are not adequately being met,” she noted.
As such she informed, on inspection, institutions will be placed in three categories. The institution would either be deemed fit and ready for registration; be given time to meet the stated requirements; or be recommended for closure.
“Where the ECI meets all the requirements, a Certificate of Registration will be issued.if an institution does not meet all the requirements but is not a clear and present danger to the children, that institution will be issued with a Permit to Operate and would be given time to improve. in the third situation a recommendation for the ECI to be closed will be made to the Minister of Education, where the children are in clear and present danger,” she explained.
“I expect that most schools would be in the second category, as this is a completely new process. We’re not expecting all schools to meet the requirements in two or three months.and we want to encourage and support institutions to meet the requirements,” she added.
In this regard she said, after an assessment, an inspector will provide a report to the Commission and to the management of the institution about the areas that need improvement and the recommended time-frame for meeting the requirements.
Highlighting some of the requirements for registration, Professor Samms-Vaughan said that ECIs will need to have suitable learning programmes, which serve to stimulate and encourage creativity among the children; safe and adequate play areas; fire safety plans; fenced/gated premises; trained teachers or caregivers; healthy nutrition programmes; proper sanitation in keeping with public health standards; proper administrative files, and health records for the children.
“What the ECC will be doing to assist schools,” she noted, “is developing templates for these plans so that institutions will not have to think about how to develop a disaster plan or nutrition plan for instance.”
“However, even though we will develop the templates each school has different requirements. A school that is situated close to a river for instance, will have different issues to deal with compared to a school that is located near to a major road way these schools would have different security and safety issues to each school will have to tweak its plan, but the base of the plan would be provided by the Commission,” she stated.
The Act will also require that teachers and/or caregivers present recent copies of a medical certificate and police record in order for the institution to be registered.

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