Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Questions (547)

Tony McLoughlin


547. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the reason funding was not provided to a service (details supplied) in order to stop it from closing; if Pobal will now outline its plans to ensure the 21 staff members and 99 children that use the service can return to the facility; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39406/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

Manorhamilton Childcare Services (MCS) is a community not-for-profit childcare service in County Leitrim. It is not a State operated service. It is governed by its own Board. The service is currently experiencing significant financial difficulties.

Leitrim County Childcare Committee, funded by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, has been working intensively to support the service to resolve legacy issues since March of this year. My Department, through Pobal's Case Management service, has also provided a range of supports and advice to the service.

MCS's Board decided to close the service on Friday 20th September, despite the significant level of support that it had received. The Board indicated in their notification to parents that the closure was temporary, and that they would continue to seek a solution to the current situation.

A funding request to Pobal and the DCYA for the service was in process at the time of their closure. It is important to note however that the stream of funding under discussion at that time was not a direct financial support for the service, and would therefore not have addressed the primary issue currently impacting the setting; a critical cash-flow challenge.

Due to the importance of this service in ensuring sufficient childcare capacity in the area, officials in my Department are currently working closely with Pobal to fully explore all available options. The next step will be for Pobal to discuss a range of options with the service’s Board of Management, at a meeting which I understand is scheduled to take place today (1 October 2019). It is hoped that the Board can agree a range of reforms necessary to bring the service to a sustainable footing that will best serve the children and families of the area, and, in so doing, to enable appropriate access to further supports from Pobal/DCYA.