A key priority for my Department is to improve outcomes for children, young people and their families. In that regard, there are a wide variety of community projects supported directly by my Department.
These range from projects supporting early learning and care, local youth projects and community projects supporting the Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures national outcomes.
The most significant in terms of funding are:
Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme (ECCE) which provides children with their first formal experience of early learning prior to commencing primary school. It is a universal and demand-led scheme, available to all children within the qualifying age range in each of the two years before they commence primary education.
The Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) is a model of supports designed to ensure that children with disabilities can access the ECCE programme. Its goal is to empower pre-school providers to deliver an inclusive pre-school experience, ensuring that every eligible child can fully participate in the ECCE programme and reap the benefits of quality early learning and care.
Community Childcare Schemes which targets support parents on a low income to avail of reduced childcare costs at participating community childcare services, including the Childcare Education Training and Support Programme, the Community Employment Childcare Programme and the After School Childcare Programme.
Other projects supported by my Department include:
- Targeted Youth Funding Schemes which targets disadvantaged youth;
- Supporting Youth Information Centres across the country which provide access to information on rights, benefits health and welfare issues;
- Children and Young People's Services Committees which support local community projects under my Department's Better Outcome, Brighter Futures Strategy and Healthy Ireland initiatives;
- A variety of projects under the Dormant Account Action Plans including projects under the Quality and Capacity Building Initiative; Youth Employability Initiative; Peer support relating to inter country adoption; Intervention to protect young people from the influence of organised crime in communities; and the Big Brother Big Sisters Mentoring Programme;
- The Area Based Childhood Programmes which aims to strengthen and develop prevention, early intervention, and family support services;
- City and County Childcare Committees which act as a local agent in the delivery of national early learning and childcare programmes;
- National Voluntary Childcare Organisations which support and represent 4,500 early education and childcare providers; and
- Childminder Development Grant and the Parent and Toddler Grant.