The National Childcare Scheme opened on the 20th November to online applications. I am delighted that there has been a very high volume of applications since then.
Service providers were offered supports earlier this year in advance of the launch of the National Childcare Scheme. One of these supports offered was the Programme Support Payment. This payment was designed to compensate providers for the additional administrative support required in order to register and maintain a child on one of the childcare programmes over and above the general administration required in relation to running a childcare service. It is a one-off payment in acknowledgement of the increased burden which arises from transitioning to a new scheme and, in particular, from the reregistration and parallel requirements of legacy and NCS schemes for the first year.
A total of 465 service providers signed up for this payment in County Cork, with 94 of those located in Cork City.
In addition, providers were also offered a capital grant. €3m of capital funding was allocated for the purpose of purchasing IT hardware and/or software to assist service providers to fully meet their obligations under the National Childcare Scheme and the Early Childhood Care and Education programme. Specifically, this refers to obligations in relation to recording and reporting children’s attendance, which acts as the key basis for ongoing payment of subsidies.
A total of 292 providers signed up for this grant in County Cork, with 52 of those located in Cork City.
Providers were made aware of these supports through notices on Pobal's PIP online portal system, the NCS website, and through local City/ County Childcare Committees. Applications for both of these supports are now closed.
In addition, an extensive training programme for providers was rolled out across the country this year. In total, between Cork City and County, there were 890 training places offered for both Phases 1 and 2 of training covering 33 training sessions. 559 practitioners attended these training events. This training was organised and promoted by local CCCs.
The NCS website www.ncs.gov.ie contains valuable resources for providers, and Pobal, the scheme administrator is also available to assist as required. Providers may also direct parents with queries to the dedicated NCS Parent Information Line 01 9068530.