Tuesday, 6 July 2021
Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
78. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth the engagements he has had with community childcare providers regarding the national childcare scheme detailing the concerns that have been highlighted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36035/21]
My Department has had ongoing engagement with the childcare sector including with community childcare providers prior to, and since the launch of the National Childcare Scheme. Over the last 7 months my Department has conducted a number of stakeholder consultations to gain further insights into their experience of the National Childcare Scheme (NCS).
The stakeholder consultations were established to provide services with the opportunity to engage in a structured consultation and discussion process, identifying any concerns and opportunities to further support the operation of the NCS.
As part of the statutory required 12 Month Review of the NCS, an independent consultancy firm, Frontier Economics has been engaged to undertake a review of the NCS following its first year of operation. During the information gathering process of the review childcare providers were asked to complete a survey of the NCS. A considerable response was received and the responses are currently being examined by the consultant. A number of interviews were also conducted by the consultant with interested parties.
This engagement was in addition to the consultations taking place as part of the ongoing review of the costs of childcare.
In addition to these targeted consultations, submissions and meetings from interested parties of the formal review process were provided to the consultant.
Given the multi-faceted and wide-ranging engagements, I am confident that Frontier Economics have a comprehensive overview of all concerns at this stage of the review process and all parties have had an opportunity to engage with process on at least one occasion.