Written answers

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Department of Health and Children

Pre-school Services

8:00 pm

Photo of Michael McGrathMichael McGrath (Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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Question 620: To ask the Minister for Health and Children if she will respond to a query regarding the operation of the new free preschool year under the early childhood care and education scheme. [39127/09]

Photo of Barry AndrewsBarry Andrews (Minister of State with special responsibility for Children and Young People, Department of Health and Children; Minister of State, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Minister of State, Department of Education and Science; Dún Laoghaire, Fianna Fail)
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As the Deputy will be aware, I have responsibility for the implementation of the new free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme, which will be introduced in January 2010. At present, some pre-school services accommodate a greater number of children than they have daily places for. During the introductory period of the scheme, in January to August 2010, transitional arrangements will apply to facilitate services in this position, and the children currently attending them. The services in question will receive a capitation grant set by reference to the number of children attending each day rather than the total number of children in a week. As the objective of the scheme is to provide all qualifying children with a full year of pre-school early education, the transitional arrangements will not extend beyond September 2010 when the first full year of the scheme comes into effect.

A range of options are available to child care providers to ensure the flexible delivery of the free pre-school year. Sessional playschool services participating in the scheme will, normally, be required to provide the pre-school year for 3 hours a day, five days a week over 38 weeks in a year. Where for good reason a sessional playschool year is unable to operate over 5 days a week, consideration will be given to allowing it provide the pre-school year over 4 days a week in which case the daily provision will be 3 hours 30 minutes and the number of weeks will increase to 41. Sessional playschool services may also choose to provide the pre-school year for 2 hours 15 minutes a day, five days a week over 50 weeks in a year.

Full or part-time daycare services participating in the scheme will, normally, be required to provide the pre-school year for 2 hours 15 minutes a day, five days a week over 50 weeks in a year. Full or part-time services may also choose to provide the pre-school year for 3 hours 45 minutes a day, 3 days a week over 50 weeks in a year. They may also provide the pre-school year as a sessional playschool service by providing the pre-school year for 3 hours a day, five days a week over 38 weeks in a year.

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