Wednesday, 20 May 2020
Department of Children and Youth Affairs
Wage Subsidy Scheme
1107. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if her Department is considering further supports for the childcare sector after the expected end date of the wage subsidy scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5562/20]
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented situation and the precise duration of this crisis cannot be known. The re-opening of ELC and SAC services will be guided by public health advice first and foremost, in accordance with the phases announced by the Government recently.
The Temporary Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme (TWSCS), launched by my Department on 15 April, builds on the wider provisions by Government and also recognises the unique place and importance of the childcare sector. The TWSCS layers on the Revenue-operated Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) and operates in tandem to this scheme. Hence, any decisions by the Department regarding the TWSCS will therefore be guided by Government decisions regarding the TWSS in the first instance. For the present, the TWSCS will run in parallel with Revenue operated TWSS to support the particular circumstances of this sector and to ensure that, once this crisis passes, ELC and SAC services will be in a position to re-open and return to their important work.
A number of supports were available before COVID to improve the sustainability of services during normal times. These remain available now ; and it is expected that this will continue as normal when services can safely reopen. Financial supports are available for community services presenting with sustainability issues following a financial assessment by Pobal. My Department has begun to consider whether this sustainability funding can be extended to private services during the pandemic. However, I hope the Deputy can appreciate that our immediate focus is the administration of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme which is in itself a significant sustainability measure, and to address other urgent issues.
My Department has made considerable investment in the sector in recent years. I want to preserve the fruits of this investment and I want to ensure that the ELC and SAC places are still there for parents when they are past these difficult times.