In October 2016, Government approved and published the policy proposals for the National Childcare Scheme. Shortly thereafter, my Department established a Project Board to oversee the development of the Scheme. The Board has representatives from both the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, alongside other Government officials. Since its inception, the Project Board has met every 4- 5 weeks and has considered all issues relating to the project, including the importance of MyGovID as the online identity verification system. My officials have also engaged closely with cross-Government colleagues on the issue of the Public Services Card and MyGovID outside of the Project Board structure.
As part of the development of the Scheme, I have also kept my Cabinet colleagues fully updated through Memoranda to Government and other communications.
Since receiving the final report from the DPC into the Public Services Card, the Government and the Attorney General have carefully considered the findings of the report, including the legal basis for its use by specified bodies or persons (such as the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs). The Government has agreed to challenge the findings of the report, as based on the legal advice received, it does not believe the DPC’s findings are correct in law. The advice of the Attorney General’s Office is that there is a strong legal basis for the continued public service wide use of the public services card.
The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection is continuing to engage with the DPC on this issue. Officials in the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) will, in turn, continue to liaise with that Department.
DCYA remains committed to delivering the National Childcare Scheme as planned and, in so doing, assisting thousands of families to access high quality and affordable early learning and care and school age childcare.