Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Questions (435)

Seán Sherlock


435. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if the case of unpaid higher capitation for a company (details supplied) will be examined. [48592/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

Thank you for your correspondence concerning the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Higher Capitation and the 2019 Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare Capital programmes.

Pobal administer both programmes on behalf of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA).

In relation to Higher Capitation payments, Pobal issued an announcement to services through the PIP system on 19th August 2019 informing them of the Higher Capitation timelines for the 2019/2020 programme year. Regrettably these timelines were later than had been indicated the previous year, due to a combination of resourcing issues and a delay in closing off the 2018/2019 programme year. I understand the frustration the timelines and delays have caused.

Pobal officials began processing applications for the programme year 2019/2020 in October 2019, in line with the announced schedule. Pobal is currently processing a large volume of applications, and is working to approve applications and release funding as soon as possible.

Considering the significant pressure on services, my Department made the decision that early learning and care providers whose applications had not yet been processed and who were also in receipt of the first preliminary payment on 23rd August 2019, would receive an additional preliminary payment on 1st November 2019. This payment was for a four-week period that took early learning and care providers to 20th November 2019. The payment was based on a child’s Full Time Equivalent (FTE) numbers for the week ending 18th November 2019 using the max FTE cap for services which were approved for Higher Capitation last year.

A further preliminary payment was made on 8th November 2019 for any early learning and care service providers whose application had still not been processed at that stage. This payment was for a four week period that took service providers to the 22nd November 2019. Service providers who had not previously been approved for the Higher Capitation rate but had submitted an application for the 2019/2020 programme year that had not been processed, received a preliminary payment on 29th October 2019. This payment was for an eight week period. An additional preliminary payment was also made to these services on 8th November and this payment was for a four week period.

As part of the School-Age Childcare strand of the 2019 Capital Grants Programme, it was a condition for services to register with Tusla in order to receive the full grant amount, as registration with Tusla is now a legal requirement for school-age childcare services. As the registration process for many services had not yet been completed at an earlier stage in the year, services who were approved for school-age childcare capital funding and had engaged with the registration process had part of their grant released prior to completion of registration, with the remainder being withheld until the registration process was complete.

Officials in my Department have been in contact with colleagues in Pobal for clarification on the details you have raised on behalf of the service in question. In response, Pobal confirmed that there are outstanding issues on the service's Higher Capitation and School Age Childcare Capital applications. I would therefore urge the service to engage with Pobal with the intention of resolving these issues. As Pobal are the administrators of both the Capital and Higher Capitation payments, they are the most appropriate point of contact for queries concerning such applications.