The Childcare Education and Training support (CETS) programme, which is one of a number of childcare support programmes implemented by my Department, provides funding to support parents who are participating in Solas and the Education Training Boards training and education courses with the cost of childcare. Payments under the CETS programme, which are made by Pobal on behalf of my Department, issue as soon as possible after the enrolment of a qualifying child and provide advance payment for 13 weeks care. I understand that the payments which issued in January this year to participating childcare services provided for the period up until the end of March. A further direction issued to Pobal authorising payments for the 13 week period commencing on 1 April and I understand that these payments have now been processed.
I would like also to advise the Deputy that new strands of childcare support under the CETS programme have been introduced including an after-school programme which provides support to social welfare recipients returning to employment and a further strand which provides support to parents participating in Community Employment schemes. My Department is currently reviewing all aspects of the childcare support programmes with a view to ensuring that they are streamlined to provide the best outcome for those dependent on these supports and those providing the services. Officials in my Department are also working intensively to develop an ICT infrastructure to support the efficient and effective administration of all programmes.