My Department's annual capital offering for childcare has supported the development of early learning and care and school age childcare services in terms of capacity, maintenance and quality. Each annual capital programme differs in priorities. In recent years, all providers could apply for grants relating to expansion and quality, while grants for essential maintenance were accessible to community providers only. Beyond this, there has been no particular distinction for services type, such as naoínraí.
The purchase of play equipment was specifically provided for in 2017 and 2018 under the natural outdoor play area grant.
The total Capital allocation for Early Years in 2018 was €6.86m. From a budget of €6.36m , the 2018 Early Years and School Age Childcare Capital Programmes achieved the following:
- 85 applications approved for the creation of 1,950 new early years places: 697 0-3 places, 1,253 ECCE places;
- 57 Essential maintenance and repair projects funded for community early years services;
- 157 Natural outdoor play areas built in early years services;
- 45 applications approved for the creation of 807 new school age childcare places;
- 54 Essential maintenance and repair projects funded for community school age childcare services.
In 2017, the total capital outturn for the Early Years and School Age Childcare Capital Programmes was €11.757m . These programmes achieved the following:
- 93 applications funded for the creation of 2,357 new early years places: 610 0-3 places, 1,747 ECCE places;
- 130 Building improvements and maintenance projects funded for community early years services;
- 452 Natural outdoor play areas built in early years services;
- 114 grants approved for building new school age childcare services, creating 3,390 new school age childcare places
- 112 grants approved for expanding existing school age childcare services, creating 1,934 new school age childcare places;
- 263 Improvement of existing school age childcare services projects funded.
My Department also offers a total of €0.5m under the Childminding Development Grant (€0.25m) and the Parent & Toddler Grant (€0.25m ) annually.
The total capital budget for Early Years in 2019 has been confirmed at €8.86m. Of this, €6.106m has been allocated to the Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare Capital programmes.
It is intended that this funding will be used to support necessary improvements to childcare infrastructure and to support childcare providers in preparation for the launch of the Affordable Childcare Scheme.