Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Questions (1347)

Jack Chambers

Question:

1347. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if her attention has been drawn to the severe shortage of childcare places in the Dublin 15 area; the efforts under way to address these shortages; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18748/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

My Department funds 30 City and County Childcare Committees across the country. Part of their role is to advise my Department on capacity issues. Officials in Fingal Childcare Committee are best placed to help any parent/guardian who are looking for a childcare place in the Dublin 15 area. I would encourage anyone having difficulty in securing a place to make contact with their local CCC. Contact details for all of the CCCs, in addition to other information about the services they provide, may be found on www.myccc.ie

As regards capacity issues more generally, each year Pobal conducts research on behalf of my Department to examine a number of factors related to childcare services in Ireland, including the monitoring of capacity. The Early Years Sector Profile report, which was published in November and relates to the 2017/2018 programme year, indicates that existing childcare provision nationally meets current needs nationwide in terms of capacity whilst recognising that small pockets of under supply may exist within this.

This report outlines a 4% vacancy rate as a percentage of children enrolled in Dublin - Fingal, ie. 11,149 children enrolled in registered services with 450 vacant childcare places. It also identifies waiting lists totalling 1,076 children. Pobal reports that nationally the trend for waiting lists suggests a reduction in waiting lists for older children and an increase for under twos. Pobal cautions that its data on waiting lists cannot by itself be used to inform capacity decisions as parents often place their children on more than one waiting list.

Further, I secured €8.86m in capital funding for childcare in 2019 and applications for funding are currently being processed by Pobal. The ultimate aim being to benefit parents and children through improving our childcare infrastructure and capacity. A particular focus will be to expand service provision for children under three years of age.

Under the National Planning Framework and the National Development Plan published in 2018, I ensured that Childcare was identified as one of our nation's strategic priorities. I am delighted that €250 million in additional funding has been committed to for the expansion of high quality, early learning and care and school age childcare over the duration of the Plan.