Pobal, which administers the childcare support programmes on behalf of my Department, compiles an Annual Survey of the Early Years Sector. For the 2012 Annual Survey, approximately 3,137 of these services responded and provided information on the enrolment levels in the different age categories in these services.
The survey shows that the total enrolment in the 3,137 childcare services was 99,220. This figure includes 3,144 children age 0-1, 14,135 aged 1-3 and 65,854 aged 3-5. The remaining 16,087 were availing of after-school care.
My Department currently provides funding to support three childcare programmes - the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme, the Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) programme and the Childcare Education and Training Support (CETS) programme - which provide a range of supports to parents of preschool children and also after-school care for children older than 6 years.
The ECCE programme provides for a free preschool year to all eligible children in the year before they commence primary school. Almost every preschool service (more than 4,300) in the State is participating with over 68,000 children, which is estimated to be almost 95% of the eligible age cohort, availing of free preschool this year.
The CCS programme provides funding to community-based childcare services to enable them to provide childcare at reduced rates to parents in receipt of social welfare payments or on low or relatively modest incomes. These supports are available to both preschool and after school children and it is estimated that in the region of 25,000 children are supported under the CCS each year.
The CETS programme provides €145 towards the weekly cost of full time childcare places to participating childcare services in both the community and commercial sectors for qualifying FÁS and VEC trainees and students with students on part-time courses funded on a pro rata basis. It is estimated that the number of children supported under the CETS programme is in the region of 5,500 annually.
A new After-school Childcare Programme was announced in Budget 2013 and will be fully rolled out in September 2013. This programme represents a full year investment of €14 million, and will provide important support to parents in low income families wishing to take up employment, by ensuring that some 6,000 quality after-school care places are provided to support children's development. It is anticipated that a small number of the places available will be utilised by children in the age cohort referred to by the Deputy.