Thursday, 9 November 2017
Department of Children and Youth Affairs
Child Care Services
235. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will address the issues facing a centre (details supplied) with regard to funding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47346/17]
I note the Deputy's question relates to the 2016 Childcare Regulations, which have impacted on the eligibility of Community Employment (CE) participants active within some providers including the service in question. Additionally, the communication refers to the affordability of childcare to families in disadvantaged areas and the need for additional funding in relation to payment for out of school time activities and services.
Concerning the changes in the CE scheme, €1m in funding has been made available to services that may find themselves unsustainable under the 2016 Regulations. Two phases of funding were made available in the 2017 budget to aid community childcare providers as a result of these regulatory developments; phase one related to HR and recruitment support, while phase two is being provided on foot of a detailed financial analysis of services.
The application for phase two of CE funding, from the service in question, has been provisionally approved, and they will shortly receive a communication outlining the next steps required to complete the funding process. However, to be eligible for receipt of CE Sustainability funding and childcare supports a service is required to have the correct legal status. Therefore, our assessment process for this stream of funding includes checks regarding the legal structure and governance structures of applicant services. At the time of application the service in question was not a registered company, and therefore their application could not be progressed until the issue was resolved. As the service was aware of this issue in advance of application, the resultant delays were out of the Department’s control, and could have been averted following appropriate notification and engagement from the service in question.
In respect of the wider sustainability issues identified in your communication: In September 2017 subvention rates under the targeted schemes rose by 50%, and an additional universal subsidy to the amount of €20 a week per child was also made available. This increase in funding will provide support for parents in low paid employment and training or education by enabling qualifying individuals to avail of reduced childcare costs at participating community childcare services. In addition, €3.5m in Programme Support Payments have been allocated to all childcare providers who register for the enhanced (September) childcare measures. There is a commitment to pay this additional €3.5m between September and the end of this year. This will therefore bring the total payments in respect of ‘Programme Support Payments’ in 2017 to €18m.