Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Questions (2581)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

2581. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if her attention has been drawn to whether or not there has been a reduction in the number of infant spaces at early years providers in County Cork particularly but not limited to the community sector; and if she will consider action to rectify this. [34355/19]

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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. 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 2018 and relates to the 2017/2018 programme year, indicates that existing childcare provision nationally meets current needs in terms of capacity whilst recognising that small pockets of under supply may exist within this. The latest Early Years Sector Profile report, based on a survey completed in May 2018, outlines a 7% vacancy rate as a percentage of children enrolled in Cork. It simultaneously reports a 12% waiting list rate, indicating both under-supply and over-supply in different areas and for different age groups.

Pobal reports that nationally the trend suggests a reduction in waiting lists for older children and an increase for under two's. 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. The following table is the latest information available taken from the Pobal report:

County

Enrolled

Waiting list

Vacant places

Carlow

2,057

260

68

Cavan

3,120

249

104

Clare

4,280

192

383

Cork City

4,246

510

295

Cork County

14,662

869

1,032

Donegal

6,575

477

882

Dublin – Dublin City

16,075

3,492

581

Dublin – Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown

6,357

880

224

Dublin – Fingal

11,149

1,076

450

Dublin – South Dublin

9,294

639

373

Galway

10,514

571

620

Kerry

5,625

269

186

Kildare

8,045

350

304

Kilkenny

3,944

414

195

Laois

3,695

43

298

Leitrim

1,437

63

74

Limerick

7,805

865

278

Longford

1,685

168

59

Louth

4,297

238

197

Mayo

4,509

421

331

Meath

6,996

396

355

Monaghan

3,623

147

190

Offaly

2,697

123

225

Roscommon

2,311

172

98

Sligo

3,144

185

88

Tipperary

6,662

372

437

Waterford

4,612

274

203

Westmeath

3,781

316

385

Wexford

5,724

296

281

Wicklow

4,276

231

224

Total

173,197

14,558

9,420

Further, I secured €8.86m in capital funding for childcare in 2019 with the ultimate aim of benefitting 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. The 2019 early years capital scheme has a primary focus on building places for the under-threes. I have made €3.7m available for this age group which will lead to the creation of more than 1,300 additional places before the year end. Early years providers from Cork compete alongside services from all other parts of the country and all applications are appraised in a fair and impartial manner and solely on the basis of the quality of their application.

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.