I thank the committee for the invitation to address it in my capacity as chairperson of Childcare Committees Ireland, CCI. I am joined this morning by my colleagues, Karen McCarthy and Karen O'Sullivan. We are here to represent our national network of 30 city and county child care committees and we welcome the opportunity to discuss our work.
The city and county child care committees were assigned by the National Childcare Strategy in 2000 as the key local component in the development of a co-ordinated approach to quality child care.
The child care committees are funded by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, DCYA, to act as its local agent in the delivery of the national early education and child care programmes and the implementation of Government policy at child care committee level. We are positioned as the first port of call for both parents and early years providers when trying to access many of today's early years care and education initiatives. Having a local focus and knowledge ensures that child care committees are well positioned to support the development and future sustainability of early years services that cater for the needs of local parents and children.
The functions and roles of the child care committees are aligned to support the implementation of national policy at local level. In addition, we play a key co-ordinating role and are still actively involved in various co-ordinating bodies which support the delivery of supports to children and families. As the established local delivery structure for the early years, child care committees play a crucial role in supporting the ongoing development of the early years sector in each child care committee area, identifying local needs, and developing and implementing plans to address these. This has been one of our core functions since our establishment in 2001.
Between 2000 to 2010, the Government, initially in partnership with the EU, invested €425 million capital funding to create child care places throughout Ireland. The Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme, EOCP, and the National Childcare Investment Programme, NCIP, provided capital funding, staffing grants and quality programmes. The child care committees were key to the success of these programmes which led to the creation of over 65,000 child care places in the early years sector.
Our role has continued to expand and it is our national reach and our unique relationship with the early years providers that makes possible the effective and efficient implementation of national policy to more than 4,500 early years services.
As well as the ongoing work of supporting the capacity of the sector, CCCs have been tasked with the local management of the processes required to deliver the various national funded programmes. The work of the CCCs has been independently evaluated and the last published report showed that 95% of services reported a high satisfaction rating from early years services regarding the supports provided to them by CCCs. As the local delivery agent and business partner of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, the CCCs are a key component of the development of early years provision nationally. Local delivery by the CCCs is effective and provides value for money. Of the circa €260 million investment into the sector, the funding of the CCCs accounts for only 4% of this budget. This national delivery structure has been further strengthened through our national network, Childcare Committees Ireland, CCI, which provides a coherent structure for various bodies to plan and implement its policy brief. As the national network, CCI works closely with a range of other Government Departments, agencies and organisations to ensure our systems are strong and effective. Not only have the CCCs remained very focused on responding to local need, they have been equally responsive to the implementation of a range of national programmes and their work supports the realisation of the objectives and targets of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. This will be further enhanced in 2017 with additional supports being developed and delivered by CCCs to all early years services to support new initiatives and the new regulatory regime. I will now hand over to my colleague, Ms Karen McCarthy, who will outline the role of the CCCs in supporting the delivery of Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures, the Government's national policy framework for children and young people. Our work is aligned with the five national outcomes.