Early Childhood regulations
I am pleased with the work Dr. McCalla is doing because in order for the new ECU to be effective we need to have a clear regulatory framework which will cover quality and standards required within Early Childhood Institutions.”
Published 23rd September 2006, 10:14am
The Cayman Islands' Early Childhood Unit (ECU) received specialist assistance recently when it partnered with Dr. Winston McCalla, a regional legal expert with experience in Early Childhood law, to make improvements to current Early Childhood regulations locally. Dr. Winston McCalla visited Cayman earlier in the month to meet with the head of the ECU, Mrs. Kate Marnoch. The focus of the meeting was on harmonizing and standardizing existing regulations, and making recommendations for new regulations where necessary. Legislation for early childhood institutions currently rests with several departments, among them Children & Family Services; Public Health; Environmental Health; the Education Department; and Planning & Building Control. The two education specialists met with senior staff members of each of these departments, as well as the Early Childhood Association and the Minister of Education, Training, Employment, Youth, Sports & Culture. They also visited pre-schools. The Minister, Hon. Alden McLaughlin, JP, expressed his enthusiasm about Dr. McCalla's involvement with the ECU saying, "Setting standards and evaluating performance for early childhood was identified as a being a key strategic objective for reform at last year's education conference. Dr. McCalla's work with the ECU will help us tremendously in achieving that objective swiftly and effectively." He added, "Improvements made to current regulations will help ensure that our youngest benefit from the highest possible standards in early childhood services." Dr. McCalla, whose work is being funded by the University of the West Indies, is reviewing current laws, some of which are draft, to identify strengths and opportunities for improvement. His involvement with the ECU will culminate in a written report suggesting recommendations for the way forward for Early Childhood regulations locally. Mrs. Marnoch commented, "I am pleased with the work Dr. McCalla is doing because in order for the new ECU to be effective we need to have a clear regulatory framework which will cover quality and standards required within Early Childhood Institutions." She added, "Many pre-schools voluntarily comply with the current guidance, but do so from good will rather than because they have to. Once the guidance is enshrined in law then all pre-schools will have to comply with the regulations." Mrs. Marnoch said that once the regulations are in place, the staff from the ECU will work closely with pre-schools to assist them in meeting the new standards. The ECU was formed earlier in the year by the Ministry of Education, Training, Employment, Youth, Sports & Culture, to address the educational and welfare needs of young children across the islands. Its formation was to facilitate progress of strategy 3 of the government's 10 strategies for education reform. Strategy 3 provides for 'the development of an Early Years unit to set standards, evaluate performance and support improvements in day-care centres, pre-schools and Reception programmes.' Dr Winston McCalla is a former Director of Law Reform in Jamaica, where he was involved with the drafting of a wide range of legislation, including the Family Court Act; the Status of Children Act; the Early Childhood Commission Act; and Early Childhood Regulations. He has been a UNICEF Consultant in a number of countries including Belize and Jamaica. He was also responsible for drafting the Families and Children Act in Belize. In his recent consultancy assignment with the University of the West Indies, he is looking at early childhood legislation and standards in a number of Caribbean countries.