Written answers

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth

Early Childhood Care and Education

Photo of Willie O'DeaWillie O'Dea (Limerick City, Fianna Fail)
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321. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth his plans to increase the standard capitation rate for the early childhood care and education scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17234/22]

Photo of Denis NaughtenDenis Naughten (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
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333. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth if he will review the ECCE capitation rates in view of rising costs for providers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17318/22]

Photo of Roderic O'GormanRoderic O'Gorman (Dublin West, Green Party)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 321 and 333 together.

In December, I announced major reforms to the funding model for early learning and childcare services. These reforms are on foot of a report from an Expert Group established in 2019, which comprised national and international experts, and was independently chaired by Michael Scanlan. Its report, Partnership for the Public Good, proposes a new approach to State funding of the sector in future. Its recommendations include a new additional funding stream for the sector, Core Funding, to support quality of provision, improved pay and conditions for staff, management of parental fees and sustainability of services

Under the new funding stream, in return for a commitment that fees to parents will not increase, providers will be supported in meeting their operating costs, including increased costs related to improved quality measures which includes staff costs. Core Funding will also contribute to cost increases related to non-staff costs (for example, utilities, rent).

Core Funding is equivalent to an increase of at least 14% on the standard capitation for ECCE. At a minimum, for every ECCE child €78.75 per week will be available from ECCE and Core Funding, compared to €69 in ECCE standard capitation only. Because Core Funding is paid in respect of places rather than children, effectively this could mean a greater ‘per child’ marginal increase if the service has unfilled capacity. For example, with an ECCE occupancy of 9 children per staff member, Core Funding and ECCE together will be equivalent to weekly per child capitation of €80.92.

Core Funding replaces the ECCE Higher Capitation payment which pays a higher capitation rate of €80.25 for all children attending ECCE classes with a graduate ECCE room lead. Core Funding includes a new a graduate premium which will be to be paid to services with graduate room leads for all early learning and care age groups.

Core funding is largely contingent on an employment regulation order, ERO, being agreed by the joint labour committee, JLC, for the sector. If agreed, an ERO will establish minimum rates of pay and conditions for all workers and it is a matter for the JLC to determine whether different rates should apply for different roles and qualification levels of staff. A JLC was established this year and has been meeting regularly in recent months.

In addition, my Department will shortly appoint a consultant to undertake a 12 month review of ECCE which will consider any enhancements that can be made based on international evidence and experience to date. The review will involve a wide consultation with providers, educators, parents, children and other stakeholder.


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