Budget 2018 saw additional funding of €73 million being made available for child care and youth services bringing total investment by my Department in 2018 to €1.383 billion. The additional funding secures much needed additional resources for Tusla, the Child and Family Agency and provides a full second year of the ECCE free pre-school scheme. It also recognises the importance of improving conditions for our early years workforce.
Tusla has received an additional €40.6 million or a 5.7% increase which is additional to the €37 million increase it received in 2017. The total financial allocation to Tusla in 2018 is €754 million. This level of funding allows it progress a number of key priorities including the introduction of mandatory reporting under Children First, continue to address unallocated cases, address gaps in out of hours services and further invest in Family Resource Centres delivering services to families in disadvantaged areas across the country.
The additional funding for early years childcare is another significant step in ensuring access to high quality, affordable early years care and education. The total allocation to early years and childcare schemes for 2018 is €485 million. From September 2018, all children will be entitled to a full two years of the ECCE scheme or free pre-school, as it has become known. This is a further enhancement that delivers fully on a commitment in the Programme for Government that is good for children, families and Early Years providers.
A total of €62 million is being made available in 2018 to support the provision of youth services throughout the country including services for young people at risk of disadvantage.
I am satisfied that the significant resources secured for 2018 facilitates my Department and its agencies to build on the good work by all involved in working with children and families to deliver on this Government’s commitment to fundamentally reform the delivery of services. I will continue to champion the need for further significant additional investment in all childcare services under the remit of my Department as we enter the Budget 2019 process and ensure that public funding is allocated efficiently, fairly and that it is targeted in the correct manner to deliver the best results for children.