Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs

Insurance Cover for Crèches: Discussion

Photo of Katherine ZapponeKatherine Zappone (Dublin South West, Independent)
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I thank the Deputy for his questions. I am pleased to attend the committee at short notice. It is not that doing so was not a challenge, but this is the appropriate place to interrogate the issues. I thank the Deputy for acknowledging our efforts. They will not solve everything, but I hope that they can be solutions in the short term and identify a path towards a mid-term solution.

The Deputy asked about the programme support payment. I have decided to offer it from within existing resources. The cost totals approximately €7 million, which will be spread across the sector.

Based on the representations by those we meet and hear from via email, we are aware of the pressure and stress that the sector has been placed under by two major elements this year - going through the re-registration process and getting ready for and becoming part of the national childcare scheme. I originally initiated the programme support payment to acknowledge and support the additional administrative burdens, and this situation is effectively within that category. We are fairly confident about how we have decided how much people should get. The average is €1,500, and the formula is tried and trusted. We have used it for the programme support payment previously. It largely has to do with the number of children that a provider has and whether they are cared for part time or full time. There are a couple of other details, but that is generally how it is determined. In light of that, there is a range of supports from small to very large. In addition, if providers still find themselves in grave difficulty, we have in place a case management system that considers sustainability issues. Pobal also works with providers on a case-by-case basis. Providers should go to Pobal and let it know. It will work through their business models. There is also the possibility of additional finances for not-for-profit providers. Providers do not have to go through any onerous process in respect of the payment. Instead, we are doing the calculating, after which the payment is made by 28 December.