Thursday, 5 March 2020
Department of Children and Youth Affairs
1084. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if a case (details supplied) will be reviewed; the additional supports available to help ease the strain of rental costs on this facility; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2905/20]
I thank the Deputy for her question. I sympathise with the difficulties this service is currently facing. The service in question may be able to access various supports through Case Management. My Department oversees a Case Management process through which local CCCs and Pobal work together to assess and provide support to early learning and care services experiencing difficulties. This can include help with completing and interpreting analysis of staff ratios, fee setting and cash flow, as well as more specialised advice and support appropriate to individual circumstances.
Financial supports, which may also be accessed through the Case Management process, are available for community services presenting with sustainability issues and following a financial assessment by Pobal.
Pobal co-ordinate the overall case management process with the CCC administering initial, and on-going, case management assistance. All services who are seeking support should therefore contact their local CCC in the first instance where their case will be reviewed.
1085. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if the concerns of parents over increased insurance costs and the detrimental impact this could have on their childcare provider will be addressed (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2906/20]
From 2017 to December 2019 there were two insurance underwriters offering insurance to the childcare sector in Ireland – Allianz and Ironshore. On the 6th December Ironshore notified their 1,300 clients that they would be withdrawing from the market. On 17th December, the broker who had provided the Ironshore underwriting services informed their customers that they had failed to get a new underwriter to take over their client base. This left only Allianz offering insurance to the sector.
I understand that Allianz provided quotations to almost all of Ironshore’s customers, on the same basis as existing Allianz customers. I acknowledge that for most Ironshore customers this resulted in increased insurance premiums.
I am pleased to inform the Deputy that a second insurance provider entered the market just before Christmas. Cullen Insurances, an underwriter based in Limerick, launched a new insurance product for childcare providers, underwritten by Sava Re. This returns competition to the insurance market in the childcare sector.
My Department is continuing to monitor the insurance options available to providers.
The cost of insurance will be included in future Early Years Sectoral Profiles, which are published annually by Pobal. This will enable my Department to keep insurance costs in the sector under review
1086. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of early years practitioners that participated in the Better Start CDP initiative in 2019; the number of practitioners that paid for their attendance; the rate of pay they received; and the amount spent on the initiative. [3088/20]
Research evidence indicates that an important driver of high quality in early learning and care provision is continuing professional development (CPD) for practitioners. To overcome identified challenges in accessing CPD courses, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs are currently piloting the introduction of a limited number of approved CPD courses through the Better Start Quality Development Service, delivered free to practitioners along with a payment paid to services to support practitioners' participation in the training.
The payment made to services for participation may be used by the service provider either to pay staff directly, to compensate them for time spent outside working hours in attending training, or to pay for relief staff to provide cover when practitioners taking part in training are given time-off in lieu or take part in training during working hours.
The three CPD courses that are included in this pilot are:
- Hanen, which teaches participants practical strategies for encouraging children’s development of language skills in the context of everyday activities. It is an 18 hours course delivered over 3 days.
- Lámh, which is a manual sign system used by children and adults with intellectual disability and communication needs in Ireland. This course is 6 hours long.
- Aistear and Play, which forms part of the National Síolta Aistear Initiative and aims to support practitioners’ understanding and use of the Aistear curriculum framework and the Aistear Síolta Practice Guide, to improve the quality of early childhood curriculum implementation for children from birth to six years. This course is 12.5 hours long.
The number of practitioners who completed the training courses in 2019 is set out in the table. As all the training programmes in the payment pilot were available free of charge to participants, none of the practitioners paid for their attendance.
Total Number of Payments issued in 2019 – 1534
|Aistear and Play||615|
The total spent on the initiatives including the full costs of the National Síolta Aistear Initiative (which include both delivery of training by Better Start, and training coordinated by Better Start and delivered by other organisations, including City/County Childcare Committees, as well as support costs), the cost of delivering the Hanen and Lámh training, and the CPD payment pilot, was €702,300 in 2019.
An evaluation of the payment pilot is under way, both to inform decisions on further roll-out and to inform the Workforce Development Plan currently being developed.