Wednesday, 13 May 2020
Department of Children and Youth Affairs
Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment
1122. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the supports that will be available for childcare and crèche workers as a result of the decision to close crèches and childcare facilities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5038/20]
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented situation that has required a series of emergency responses from the Government.
I am acutely aware of the particular impact the pandemic and the emergency measures have had on Early Learning and Care (ELC) and School Age Childcare (SAC) providers. I am also very conscious of the importance of the ELC and SAC sector, particularly in the context of the current conditions and with a view to supporting the economy as we move beyond this crisis.
Recognising this, DCYA has introduced the Temporary Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme (TWSCS) to support the childcare sector during the closure period. The Temporary Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme was launched on 15 April. The TWSCS operates in conjunction with the Revenue Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS), which is expected to last up to 12 weeks from 26 March 2020.
The aim of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme is threefold:
- to support the sustainability of the Early Learning and Care (ELC) and School Age Childcare (SAC) sector so that it is in a position to reopen after COVID-19;
- to provide parents with a reassurance that they are not required to pay fees during this COVID-19 crisis, while providing them with reassurance that they will maintain places for their children; and
- to give members of the ELC and SAC workforce security and retain these vital Educators in the sector.
To achieve this there are three key elements to the new Scheme:
(i) In addition to the wage subsidy provided by Revenue’s TWSS, DCYA is topping-up wages of eligible ELC and SAC staff by the maximum additional payment an employer can make to receive full wage subsidy under the Revenue and DCYA schemes combined, to a limit of €586 weekly pay in line with the Revenue scheme.
(ii) Where a staff member’s pre-12 March weekly wage was below the DEASP set rate for temporary Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP; currently €350 per week), DCYA is, on a temporary basis, providing funding to be used to top-up eligible employees’ wages to the DEASP rate set for the PUP, meaning that all staff are encouraged to remain with their employer rather than sign on with the DEASP.
(iii) To reflect the unique circumstances of the sector, in addition to funding eligible staff wages up to the maximum additional payment an employer can make to receive the full wage subsidy under the Revenue and DCYA schemes combined up to the cap, services are receiving a further payment which is based on a percentage of their total eligible staff gross weekly pay to be used towards ongoing / non-deferrable operational costs
To date, three preliminary TWSCS payments have been made under the scheme on 24 April, 1 May and 8 May to all providers who had signed up the scheme and backdated to 6 April. Details of how to sign up have been made available through the Pobal programme platform used by ELC and SAC providers. Prior to the introduction of the scheme, DCYA had continued to fund childcare providers under the existing subsidy schemes, including ECCE (free pre-school) and the National Childcare Scheme on an ex-gratia basis to 10 April. Funding under these schemes has now been suspended.
It was important to move to this new temporary funding model to support as many of the 4500 services as possible, not just those in receipt of significant State funding under the beneficiary schemes. The TWSCS repurposes existing ELC and SAC monies to layer on top of the Revenue Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) and to support the multiplicity of ELC and SAC provider types with varying ratios of State income and parental contribution.
By 10 May over 3,700 childcare services, 82% of the total number, had signed up the TWSCS. The scheme remains open for late entrants.
Administration of the scheme is being managed by Pobal. DCYA has issued comprehensive FAQs on the scheme to providers and their representative bodies. The TWSCS builds on the wider provisions by Government and also recognises the unique place and importance of the early education and childcare sector.
Expert advice and support is available generally to services across the country through the 30 City and County Childcare Committees, Pobal and a number of funded Childcare Organisations. The Department continues to work intensively with the sector.