Thursday, 25 February 2021
Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
205. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth if he will be prioritising a plan for the safe return to full capacity in childcare settings and for ECCE participants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10957/21]
Government decided on 6 January that, in order to reduce movement in the population, the ECCE programme would not resume until 1 February and this was later extended to 5 March. Other Early Learning and Childcare and School-Age Childcare services (ELC/SAC services) have remained open on a restricted basis, to offer services to the children of essential workers and to vulnerable children only.
As part of a careful and cautious reopening of priority sectors of society and the economy, planning is currently underway for the phased reopening of ELC/SAC services.
From March 8, ELC/SAC services will begin a phased reopening to wider cohorts of children commencing with the full resumption of ECCE pre-school programme. This Programme significantly contributes to children’s early learning and development experiences and is particularly beneficial to children who have additional needs or experience disadvantage.
From 29 March, subject to public health advice, other restrictions on access to early learning and childcare will be lifted so that all other children can return to services.
The HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) has published sector specific guidance on infection prevention and control for ELC/SAC services. The HPSC guidance has been effective in helping to keep cases of Covid-19 in settings low over the last eight months. Services that are currently operating and those that will reopen in the coming weeks are advised that, by following the HPSC Guidance closely, they can significantly reduce their risk of transmission of infection within their setting.
More information can be found at .