Written answers

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth

Early Childhood Care and Education

Photo of John McGuinnessJohn McGuinness (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fianna Fail)
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312. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth if the early childhood education and care sector will have its funding increased in line with the inflation costs. [25464/22]

Photo of Roderic O'GormanRoderic O'Gorman (Dublin West, Green Party)
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My Department secured an overall 2022 allocation of €716m, an increase of €78m on the previous year’s allocation.

The 2022 allocation includes €272m for the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme Funding, €200m for the National Childcare Scheme (NCS) and Savers Programme Funding.

Funding for the ECCE programme is allocated on a capitation basis that has regard to the unit cost of delivery, taking account of providers’ costs.

NCS funding constitutes a demand-side subsidy paid to providers which is offset against parents’ fees rather than being related to providers’ costs.

The 2022 budget also provides for the introduction of a new Core Funding scheme. 2022 will see up to €73m being made available for Core funding, which equates to €221m in full year costs.

Core Funding is designed to facilitate a partnership between the State and early learning and childcare services for the public good. Its primary purpose is to improve pay and conditions in the sector as a whole and to improve affordability for parents, as well as ensuring a stable income to providers.

Core Funding will give providers a stable income source based on the nature of the service they deliver. A provider’s income will now consist of Core Funding, NCS subsidies and ECCE capitation, and parental fees. Structuring Core Funding primarily based on capacity means that services will have an allocation each year that will not fluctuate in line with children’s attendance.Core Funding makes a contribution to staff costs, which comprise approximately 70% of a service's operating costs. In this respect, Core Funding includes allocations for improvements in staff pay and conditions (€138 million) and for administrative staff/time (€25 million). Employer costs are factored in to the staff costs allocation in Core Funding. A further €38 million will be distributed in line with ELC graduate qualifications of ELC Lead Educators and Managers in ELC or combined ELC and SAC services.

Core Funding also makes a contribution to non-staff overhead costs (for example, utilities, rent) that make up the remaining 30% of providers costs. In a full year, there is an allocation of €20 million for a contribution to non-staff overhead costs through Core Funding. This includes an increase since the original allocation was announced in the budget.

Extensive analysis of the income and costs to providers demonstrates that the combined funding model of ECCE, NCS and Core Funding offers a substantial and attractive package to providers to cover costs, including increased costs related to quality measures, while also committing to the key conditions of Core Funding such as the fee freeze.

My Department is committed to increasing sectoral investment by at least €1bn by 2028.


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