Written answers

Thursday, 21 March 2024

Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth

Childcare Services

Photo of Cian O'CallaghanCian O'Callaghan (Dublin Bay North, Social Democrats)
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274. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth further to Parliamentary Question No. 276 of 29 February 2024, the reason there have been such lengthy delays in issuing guidance to pre-schools and in opening the ICT portal for the upload of core funding applications; if he is aware that these delays may cause closures among pre-schools; if he is further aware that many accountants will not supply a quote until they know what is involved with the ICT portal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13514/24]

Photo of Roderic O'GormanRoderic O'Gorman (Dublin West, Green Party)
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Officials in my Department have, in recent months, engaged intensively with members and nominees of the Early Learning and Childcare Stakeholder Forum (ELCSF) in relation to Core Funding Financial Reporting Requirements.

Arising from that engagement, transitional arrangements for financial reporting this year and next were agreed.

The Income and Expenditure Template that my officials now require to be completed as part of these transitional arrangements was shared with providers on 21 December 2023 through the Hive.

Over the same period, my officials also engaged with accountants to finalise guidance in respect of the role of the accountant in financial reporting this year. This guidance was shared on 8 March 2024.

The transitional arrangements, which were agreed, have necessitated substantial changes in the financial reporting portal under development and this has been a factor in the timeline for that work.

Following a meeting with the portal developers last week, my Department wrote to providers on 15 March to advise that the portal, which will be tested by a number of providers, will open in two stages:

  • The portal will be open to providers to register and to link their nominated accountant on or before the 29 April 2024.
  • The portal will be open on or before the 31 May 2024 to accept completed Income and Expenditure templates
Given the availability of the portal is later than originally planned, the deadline for submitting completed Income and Expenditure templates will now be 26 June 2024.

In advance of the portal opening, providers can complete the Income and Expenditure template and engage an accountant. I understand many providers have already done this.

As my officials communicated previously, providers that experience difficulty in engaging an accountant to submit the completed Income and Expenditure template by the new deadline will have the option of submitting a draft Income and Expenditure template by 26 June 2024.

Services that avail of this option will need to engage an accountant to submit a final Income and Expenditure template prior to them entering into Core Funding in Year 3.

My Department officials are now focusing on rolling out a suite of supports to providers to fulfil their financial reporting obligations under Core Funding, which will be delivered through local City/County Childcare Committees (CCC).

These supports will include once-off financial support for targeted services. Further details on these supports will be outlined in a detailed FAQ that will be circulated to providers this week.

Financial reporting requirements under Core Funding was a recommendation of the Expert Group in their report ‘Partnership for the Public Good’ who identified the need for robust data to underpin funding policy. These essential data will inform the ongoing development of Core Funding, including preparations for the next Estimates process, ensuring we can continue to make progress on our shared objectives of affordable, quality, inclusive and sustainable early learning and childcare services.


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