Written answers

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Department of Children and Youth Affairs

Childcare Services

Matt Carthy (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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735. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs his plans to address excessive waiting lists for access to childcare facilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19065/20]

Roderic O'Gorman (Dublin West, Green Party)
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My Department has carried out research into the intentions of parents and early learning and care (ELC) and school age childcare (SAC) providers to estimate the likely supply and demand for places in the coming months.

IPSOS MRBI undertook a survey of households with children from May 22-24, 2020.  Parents/guardians were asked to consider what type of arrangement they intended to use for each of their children. 27% of parents reported using centre-based services in March 2020, and 13% indicated that they intended to return to centre based care on the reopening of services.

IPSOS MRBI carried out a second survey of households with children from June 19 – July 10 2020. 17% indicated an intention to use a centre-based service post-COVID-19, an increase on the 13% who had intended to use centre based care in the previous survey.

A phone survey of providers was carried out between 4 and 12 June 2020. Of 2624 services contacted, 85% indicated they were planning on reopening, while 2% indicated they were not. The rest had not decided at that time.

Early learning and care providers were permitted to reopen on 29 June.  By 27 July, over 1,550 services had already reopened, which is 85% of the services that usually open in the summer months.  With regard to the balance of services that normally reopen at the end of August / early September, 76% of all services have already applied for reopening grants, confirming that they will be reopening.  Services have until 28 August to confirm that they will be reopening.  It will not be possible to assess supply in the sector until all services who intend to reopen confirm that they will do so.

If any parents are having difficulty in accessing a childcare place they should contact their local County Childcare Committee (CCC) who will be able to advise them of all childcare options in their locality.  Parents can find the contract details for their local CCC on the website myccc.ie.

Matt Carthy (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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736. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the capital funding schemes available for childcare services; his plans to provide for additional capital funding towards the development and expansion of community childcare centres; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19066/20]

Roderic O'Gorman (Dublin West, Green Party)
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My Department has, since 2015, administered an annual capital funding programme, under which early learning and care (ELC) and school-age childcare (SAC) services providers are invited to apply for capital funding to increase capacity and to maintain and improve their services.

The 2020 Capital programme was launched on 26 February with a budget of €7.2million.  However, it was necessary, as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic, to suspend the 2020 Capital programme on March 26.

On 10 June 2020 a major funding package to facilitate the reopening of early learning and care services which included an additional €7m in Capital funding, resulting in a total budget of €14.2 million which was shared between all services.

The application process for the 2020 Capital programme, which is administered by Pobal, is open for applications on the Early Years Platform, (the Hive) until 28 August 2020.

My Department will run a new capital programme in 2021 details of which will issue to all services later in the year.

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