Childcare Services Regulation

Questions (630)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

630. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if her Department notifies the city and county childcare committees when a crèche is due to have its registration removed; if so, the number of such notifications issued in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019 by county, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52620/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

The removal of crèches from the Register of Early Years Services is the ultimate sanction by Tusla, the independent statutory Regulator. It comes at the end of an enforcement process, during which a provider is afforded fair procedure, and generally provided with several opportunities to rectify matters and meet regulatory requirements. Tusla does not take the decision lightly and generally does so because of persistent and serious non-compliance with the Regulations. While there is a right of appeal to the District Court within 21 days, the services will be required to close after the notice period.

The safety and protection of children remains the first priority of the regulator and indeed of Government. Safety and protection is assured through the enforcement of regulations which have children at the heart of their implementation.

I acknowledge that de-registrations can cause significant challenges for parents in finding alternative childcare provision, and I have great sympathy for parents in this situation. But, I firmly believe that robust enforcement of the Regulations is in children's interests and is the right thing to do. 

Where a service is removed from the register, the staff of 30 Department funded City and County Childcare Committees around the country are available to support parents who need help finding an alternative service. Officials in my Department liaise closely with the relevant Childcare Committee to ensure that everything possible is being done for parents affected by closures. 

The regulations in this area still relatively new. Since the Register of Early Years Services was created in 2016, six services have been removed from the register, and a further six have been notified that they are required to close in the coming weeks. My Department has worked closely with the relevant City and County Childcare Committees in relation to capacity issues arising from de-registrations in the respective areas.

In recent cases, Childcare Committees have operated extended opening hours to support parents. The Childcare Committees have also been actively supporting and exploring the development of alternative childcare options in the locality.

Childcare Services

Questions (631, 632)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

631. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of days before the public announcement by Tusla of a crèche closure her Department is informed of the closure; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52621/19]

View answer

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

632. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the point at which the attention of her Department is drawn by Tusla to the fact that unregistered crèches are in operation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52622/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 631 and 632 together.

The removal of crèches from the Register of Early Years Services is the ultimate sanction by Tusla, the independent statutory Regulator. It comes at the end of an enforcement process, during which a provider is afforded fair procedure, and generally provided with several opportunities to rectify matters and meet regulatory requirements. Tusla does not take the decision lightly and generally does so because of persistent and serious non-compliance with the Regulations.

My Department is notified of the closure by Tusla one to two days in advance or, at the latest, on the day of the letter issuing to the provider advising of the removal from the register. As the services are required to close after a 21 day notice period, the Department is aware of the de-registration at least 21 working days in advance.

This allows the Department to put in train supports through the City and County Childcare Committee and to liaise with Pobal in order to cease funding.

Separately, from time to time Tusla is notified of services operating without registration or outside the scope of their registration. This information is usually brought to Tusla’s attention through three channels:

- Unsolicited information from parents raising a concern regarding the quality or safety of the service;

- Directly from the service provider requesting to register or to change circumstances;

- On inspection.

When Tusla is notified of a service operating without registration, it:

- Seeks to confirm if the service is operational;

- Issues a cease and desist letter to the service as appropriate and advises the service to immediately contact the Early Years Registration Office to make an application for registration;

- Sometimes Tusla seeks  warrants from the District Court to inspect the service and gather evidence.

Tusla works with providers to bring them to compliance and most providers work constructively with Tusla to achieve this. Where Tusla is unable to bring the service into compliance and a decision is made to de-register the service, the Department is notified of this decision by Tusla.

Childcare Services Funding

Questions (633)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

633. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if funding is provided to unregistered crèches through Pobal or other means; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52623/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

The policy of my Department is not to provide funding to services which are not Tusla registered. There has however been a small number of services that were not on the Tusla register, but which had been deemed appropriate to fund and which had a DCYA reference number, enabling Pobal payments and this is detailed in paragraphs 3- 5 below. When the Department is notified by Tusla that a service is deregistered, funding is stopped with effect from the date of de-registration.

Under regulation, registered service providers must notify Tusla of certain "change of circumstances". DCYA continues funding these services unless Tusla deregisters them, in which instance, DCYA ceases payments.  

The registration of early learning and care services was introduced under the Child and Family Agency Act 2013.  Prior to this, preschool services were required to register with the HSE. Montessori schools which provided early years services, and which were registered with the Irish Montessori Education Board (IMEB) were not required to register with the HSE, as these Montessori providers were subject to regulation and inspection from the IMEB.

When the Tusla register was established, Montessori services were to transfer across to the new register; however, due to an administrative error, some of these services did not transfer. My Department and Tusla are correcting this error.

While the IMEB service providers were not Tusla registered, they did have a DCYA reference number, issued prior to the establishment of Tusla, which enabled them to appropriately receive State funds. As holders of DCYA reference numbers, they are subject to inspection by the DCYA commissioned, Department of Education and Skills Early Years Inspectorate and by Pobal for compliance and audit purposes.

Childcare Services Regulation

Questions (634)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

634. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she has considered introducing a fining system for crèches that are found to be in breach of their registration; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52624/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

The safety and protection of children remains the first priority of Government.  This is done through the enforcement of Regulations which have children at the heart of their implementation. Tusla is the independent statutory regulator of early learning and care and school age childcare services in Ireland. In performing its regulatory function, its actions include responding to breaches of regulations while respecting fair procedures and natural justice. It also carries out significant activity each year to support services to be compliant.

Tusla’s Early Years Inspectorate was given substantial new powers just three years ago. These include the powers to:

Maintain a register of early years services;

Place conditions on that registration, refuse to register a service, or remove a service from the register where that service is not operating in accordance with the Regulations;

Prosecute a service that has not complied with a condition of registration;

Prosecute a person or persons who are operating an unregistered service; and

Re-examine the registration status of every service on at least a three-yearly cycle.

The legislation governing the regulation of early years services already provides for the fining of service providers that are in breach of their registration. Specifically, Section 58k of the Child Care Act, 1991 (as amended by Part 12 of the Child and Family Agency Act, 2013) sets out the circumstances under which a person may be found guilty of an offence under Part VIIA of the Act (including a breach of registration) and so shall be liable to a Class A fine.

Following the RTÉ Investigates broadcast Behind Closed Doors on 24th July 2019, I wrote to the Chairperson of Tusla to ask what additional powers Tusla’s Early Years Inspectorate might need in order to address concerns it may have about provision within years services. The Chairperson of Tusla wrote back to me in August, setting out a range of additional powers that might be provided to Tusla, which included:

- Power to close a service immediately where it has failed to register (rather than having to go to Court to seek a prosecution);

- The ability to request and acquire parents’ contact details, in order to inform parents as early as possible regarding ongoing investigation / proceedings;

- Power to require services to display, in a prominent position, their registration status, and any conditions attaching to the registration;

- Power to immediately close a service (already registered) where Tusla has evidence of very serious breach of regulations;

- A requirement to have a ‘fit person’ regulation related to the registered provider and person in charge;

- Provision, when a service is to be removed from the register, for a process to allow for continuation of the service under interim management where appropriate; and

- Adding Tusla to the list of services under protected disclosures legislation in order to enable staff working in early years services to make disclosures to Tusla.

Officials in my Department are now examining these and other options.  

While it may be possible to give effect to some of these powers through Ministerial Order, some will require amendments to primary legislation, and careful consideration is needed to ensure that any measures taken are robust and legally sound. I have asked my officials to move as quickly as possible, but I recognise that there are complex legal issues involved which will take time to address.

Childcare Services

Questions (635)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

635. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the way in which childminders have been included in the consultation and development of the draft childminding action plan; the way in which the uniqueness of childminding in a non-centre based environment will be protected in the action plan; if changes can still be made to the action plan; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52642/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

I strongly believe that childminding has an important and distinctive role to play in the future of early learning and care and school-age childcare in this country. The public consultation on the Draft Childminding Action Plan was extensive, and I warmly welcome the high level of participation in the consultation by both childminders and parents.

A central part of the consultation process was a series of 32 focus groups of childminders that were organised around the country by the local City and County Childcare Committees, with a total of 205 childminders taking part. The focus groups were designed specifically to enable childminders to take an active part in the consultation: all 32 events were run in the evenings, and they were organised at county level, with the help of the new team of regional Childminding Development Officers that I have put in place this year.

In addition to the focus groups, the consultation process involved an online survey, a call for submissions, and an Open Policy Debate (with 55 participants) that took place in the daytime to facilitate participation by other stakeholders. The online survey had 467 respondents, of whom nearly 40% were parents and nearly 60% were childminders. 14 submissions were also received.

The public consultation process on the Draft Action Plan was widely publicised through the National Voluntary Childcare Organisations (including Childminding Ireland) and the local City and County Childcare Committees, all of whom communicate on an ongoing basis with Early Learning and Care providers, School Age Childcare providers and parents.

The consultation with parents and childminders on the proposed reforms also included a major consultation process that was carried out by the Working Group on Reforms and Supports for the Childminding Sector. The Draft Childminding Action Plan is firmly based in the Working Group's report, which was submitted to me last year. The Working Group itself was chaired by Childminding Ireland, and its work included an online survey of childminders and parents, in which there were 3,630 participants.

While a significant amount of consultation has already taken place, the Draft Action Plan also commits to further consultation with childminders, parents and other stakeholders during development of regulations specific to the home environment, during Phase 1 of the Action Plan.

The Draft Childminding Action Plan is very much about recognising and supporting all that is distinctive about childminding and about the home and family setting in which childminders work. The Draft Action Plan proposes to move away from the current situation in which childminders face the same regulations as centre-based providers, and proposes instead to develop new regulations that are specific and appropriate to childminding, and to develop bespoke training and resources to support the quality of childminding provision.

With the completion of the consultation process, my officials will soon commence a process of consideration of all the feedback received from the various fora and methodologies. A final plan will then be brought for approval which will reflect the results of the extensive consultation exercise.

Child and Family Agency

Questions (636)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

636. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if Tusla is now using guidelines of one refuge space per 10,000 persons as opposed to 10,000 women; if a review of refuge spaces in the greater Dublin area is taking place; if so, when the results will be available; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52662/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has statutory responsibility for the care and protection of victims of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence (DSGBV).  

The Council of Europe's document on minimum standards for support services for victims of domestic violence, "Combating Violence Against Women: Minimum Standards for Support Services" describes standards that apply to a range of services for victims, including the level of provision of shelter places. Tusla has advised me that it references this document in relation to standards that apply to a wide range of DSGBV services, including the level of provision of refuge spaces.

The Council of Europe document references two standards: either one shelter space per 10,000 head of adult population, or one shelter space per 10,000 head of female population, with specific measures of population and calculation of shelter spaces. Tusla is currently applying the latter standard as the requirement for a lesser number of shelter spaces reflects a community focused integrated response for victims, where community-based organisations and outreach supports are in place alongside refuges. This reflects the structure of services available in Ireland.

Responsibility for investment in new refuges falls under the remit of a number of Government bodies. The planning and resourcing of additional refuge accommodation requires cross-Government support. 

Five additional emergency spaces will shortly be available in a new refuge development in South Dublin, with a further three emergency spaces to be provided in Galway City early in 2020. Each of these additional spaces can accommodate one adult and up to three dependant children in an emergency refuge setting. Future developments will be informed by Tusla's review of emergency refuge accommodation in the greater Dublin area and nationwide, which will be completed in early 2020.

Child and Family Agency

Questions (637)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

637. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if county boundaries or local authority area boundaries are used for estimating need when using guidelines for refuge spaces per 10,000 persons; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52663/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has statutory responsibility for the care and protection of victims of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence.

I have requested that Tusla responds directly to the Deputy on these matters.

Child and Family Agency Data

Questions (638)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

638. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of refuge spaces available in Dublin city and county by local authority area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52664/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has statutory responsibility for the care and protection of victims of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence.

I have requested that Tusla responds directly to the Deputy regarding the distribution of emergency refuge spaces in Dublin city and county.

Youth Services

Questions (639)

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

639. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the legislative and policy measures available to tackle underage drinking; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52714/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

My Department provides funding for universal youth work through the Youth Services Grant Scheme (YSGS) to a range of organisations, many of which provide support around alcohol and drugs. 

These organisations include:

- No Name! Club which provide positive alternatives to alcohol and drug-centred activities for young people

- National Youth Council of Ireland partner with DCYA and the HSE to run The National Youth Health Programme (NYHP) which builds capacity in the youth work sector around health and well-being capacity building

- SpunOut provide advice and information to young people of the youth workers and volunteers.  

€11.1m was allocated to the YSGS budget in 2019.

In addition to this, my Department administers funding for targeted youth funding through the Targeted Youth Funding Scheme, the revised scheme being launched this month and accounting for €38.5 million.  These funds are specifically directed towards supporting vulnerable, disadvantaged or marginalised young people, many of whom are at greater risk of alcohol misuse, and/or underage drinking. 

Strategy to support young people in this area is overseen by overarching framework for the improving outcomes for children and young people Better Outcomes Brighter Futures (2014-2020), a key outcome of which is to for ensure that children and young people are Active and Healthy. 

This is also reflected in the constituent strategy the National Youth Strategy (2015-2020) which states as an objective that 'Young people enjoy a healthy lifestyle, in particular with regard to their physical, mental and sexual health and well-being'.

Child and Family Agency Data

Questions (640)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

640. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of refuge places available by county in tabular form; her plans to increase the number in line with the obligations under the Istanbul Convention; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52718/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has responsibility for the care and protection of victims of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence. This includes the provision of emergency refuge accommodation for individuals and families that experience domestic violence. I have requested that Tusla respond directly to the Deputy regarding the distribution of refuge spaces throughout the country.

It should be noted that the responsibility for capital investment in new refuges falls under the remit of a number of Government bodies. Future developments will be informed by Tusla’s review of emergency refuge accommodation nationwide, which will be completed in early 2020.

Childcare Services Regulation

Questions (641)

Seán Fleming

Question:

641. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the changes requested in relation to the management of privately-owned childcare facilities to date in 2019 in respect of a planning compliance certificate; if the request has subsequently been withdrawn; if there have been requests for fire certificates; if they have been subsequently withdrawn; if there has been confirmation in relation to smoke or carbon dioxide alarms; if they are still in operation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52811/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

I am assuming that the Deputy is referring to the supporting documentation required as part of the re-registration process for early years services by the Early Years Inspectorate of Tusla, the independent and statutory regulator of this sector. 

The suitability and safety of premises is a key concern in the assessment of quality provision for children in early learning and care settings. Section 58G of the Child Care Act, 1991 (as amended by Part 12 of the Child and Family Agency Act, 2013) places an onus on the providers of early years services to ensure that they take all reasonable measures to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of children.  

In August 2019, Tusla. as regulator, issued guidance for registered providers of early years services on the fire and planning requirements for the re-registration and change in circumstances process. It is important to note that these were not new Regulations, but guidance on the submission of documentation for the purpose of re-registration.  

Registration of Early Learning and Care settings is granted where Tusla is satisfied that the premises, operation and location of the setting poses no unmanaged risk to children.

In recognition of the difficulties many providers were experiencing in completing re-registration, Tusla decided to revise the time-line for submission of some supporting documentation for re-registration. Under the revised arrangements, while providers were required to apply to Tusla by 12th December for re-registration, they have until 30th June 2020 to provide some of the supporting documentation required, including on fire safety and planning requirements.  

While many services already have the necessary documentation in place, Tusla has been made aware that, in certain parts of the country, some providers were experiencing difficulties owing to a shortage of available professional persons to complete the required fire risk assessments. The extended deadline of 30th June 2020 for providing supporting documentation will allow providers to access the relevant professionals and get the required documentation in place.

While the health and safety of children is the primary concern in decisions on the regulation of early learning and care services, I recognise that a balanced approach to the re-registration process was required, given difficulties some providers experienced in completing their applications. In that context, I fully support Tusla’s decision.

The importance of addressing fire safety concerns cannot be underestimated. In recognition of this, my Department awarded €330,000 of capital funding to community-based, non-profit services in 2019. This has helped to address fire safety issues that had been highlighted in inspection reports. A further, related round of capital funding will be provided in 2020.

Fire safety audits, fire safety legislation and compliance come under the remit of the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. The Tusla Early Years Inspectorate liaises with Local Authority fire services where appropriate.  

Tusla is available to answer questions from providers as required.

Children in Care

Questions (642)

Joe O'Brien

Question:

642. Deputy Joe O'Brien asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of children that left residential care in each year since 2016 due to ageing out; and the number assigned an aftercare worker. [52812/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

The Deputy is referring to an operational matter for Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. I have therefore referred the matter to Tusla, and asked that a direct response be provided to the Deputy.

Child and Family Agency Data

Questions (643)

Joe O'Brien

Question:

643. Deputy Joe O'Brien asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of aftercare worker positions funded by her Department. [52813/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

I wish to advise that my officials have asked Tusla to respond directly to the Deputy on this matter.

Child and Family Agency Data

Questions (644)

Joe O'Brien

Question:

644. Deputy Joe O'Brien asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of child support workers that have a specific role to work with homeless children funded by her Department. [52814/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

I wish to thank the Deputy for his question, and can confirm that I have referred the matter to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, for their direct reply.

Childcare Services Provision

Questions (645)

Joe O'Brien

Question:

645. Deputy Joe O'Brien asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her plans to improve the level of community-based childcare provision in Fingal, County Dublin in view of the fact Fingal has the lowest level of community-based childcare and the youngest population. [52815/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

Each year Pobal conducts research on behalf of my Department to examine a number of factors related to early learning and care and school age childcare services in Ireland, including the monitoring of capacity.  This is published in an annual Early Years Sector Profile.  

I launched the 2018/2019 Early Years Sector Profile on 16 December 2019.  The Sector Profile indicates that, on a national basis,  existing childcare capacity broadly meets current demand, although there are pockets of under supply in some localities.  

With regard to Fingal, Pobal has identified 11,678 childcare places in the area. Pobal does not distinguish between community and private providers when recording capacity.  

Fingal has a total of 326 childcare service providers, of which 19 are community based services.  

Fingal County Childcare Committee is available to provide advice and support to any individual, company or community based organisation who wish to establish early learning and care or school age childcare services.  

Under First 5, and also in preparation for planned investment under the National Development Plan, my Department will be undertaking research to consider in detail the capacity needs of each area across the country. In the interim, an annual capital scheme is available to support any provider, private or community, to increase capacity. I will be announcing the detail of the 2020 scheme shortly.

Disability Services Provision

Questions (646)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

646. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the options available to a family (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52854/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

There are both specialised and mainstream supports available for children with disabilities, including autism. Mainstream preschools receive support from my Department, while both the Department of Education and Skills and the HSE continue to support some specialist early intervention classes and pre-schools, which in many cases provide placements for children with ASD. Contact should be made with the local children’s disability service for further information. In addition, the National Council for Special Education team of locally based Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) are available to assist parents to identify appropriate educational placements for children with special educational needs and to discuss their child's special educational needs. The local SENO contact details are available on www.ncse.ie.

Many children with disabilities, including autism, take part in mainstream early learning and care services. Participation of children with disabilities in the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) universal pre-school programme in mainstream preschool settings is supported by the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM). The key objective of AIM is to support early learning and care providers to deliver an inclusive preschool experience, ensuring that children with a disability can fully participate in the ECCE Programme, thereby reaping the benefits of quality preschool education.

AIM has seven levels of progressive support, moving from universal to targeted, based on the needs of the child and the early learning and care setting they are attending.  The seven levels include the following:

Level 1: An Inclusive Culture

This level recognises that a strong culture of inclusion must be fostered and embedded to support all children’s maximum participation in the ECCE Programme.

- An Inclusion Charter for the Early Years Sector and updated Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Guidelines have been published and a national training programme on the Guidelines is being rolled out.

- A higher education programme in Leadership for INClusion in Early Years Settings (LINC) was established in 2016 with provision for 900 students annually for four years, who when qualified may be employed as Inclusion Coordinator in a mainstream preschool setting. 

- AIM Inclusive Play (AIP) packs were developed for preschool settings and included toys and materials to encourage coordination and audio, visual and tactile skills for all children. 6,500 AIP packs were delivered to preschool settings delivering the ECCE programme.

Level 3: A Qualified and Confident Workforce

This level, in recognising the requirement to continue to develop a qualified workforce that can confidently meet the needs of all children wishing to participate in the ECCE Programme, provides for a multi-annual training programme for preschool practitioners.

Targeted Supports

Where an ELC provider, in conjunction with a parent, considers that they may need some additional support in order to meet the needs of a child with a disability in an inclusive way, they can apply for a suite of more targeted supports, namely:

Level 4: Expert Early Years Educational Advice and Support

This level provides access to mentoring for preschool practitioners from a team of dedicated AIM Early Years Specialists. To avail of this support, preschool providers and parents are requested to complete an online Access and Inclusion Profile. This looks at the strengths, abilities and needs of the child, as well as the strengths and needs of the preschool setting.  

Level 5: Equipment, Appliances and Minor Alterations Capital Grants

This level provides for access to specialised equipment, appliances, assistive technology and/or minor alterations capital grants for ELC settings to ensure children with a disability can participate in the ECCE programme. A short report from a designated professional is required confirming that the specialised equipment or minor building alterations are necessary.

Level 6: Therapeutic Intervention

AIM Level 6 provides access to therapeutic services where they are critical to enable the child to be enrolled and to meaningfully participate in the ECCE Programme. To avail of this support, the preschool provider, in conjunction with the parent, must complete the online Access and Inclusion Profile. The HSE decides on the appropriate Level 6 therapeutic supports needed by the child in the preschool setting.

Level 7: Additional Assistance in the Preschool Room

This level provides additional assistance in the preschool room where this is critical to ensuring a child’s participation in the ECCE Programme. AIM provides financial support to the preschool provider where needed, which can be used either to reduce the adult to child ratio in the preschool room or to buy in additional assistance to the preschool room. Level 7 assistance is a shared resource for the preschool setting.

Children can be registered on the ECCE Programme (free pre-school) if they are over 2 years and 8 months before 1st September. The ECCE Programme is available to each child for two pre-school years, provided the child is not older than 5½ years at the end of the pre-school year.

Since its introduction in 2016, AIM has provided over 12,100 children with disabilities with over 26,800 targeted supports across over 3,300 preschools. Thousands more preschool children are benefitting from the universal supports provided under AIM. I have recently announced an additional €10 million in funding for the AIM initiative in Budget 2020.  

As AIM is available nationwide all mainstream providers in the Limerick area that are taking part in the ECCE Programme can avail of AIM supports. The Limerick County Childcare Committee can provide information on ECCE providers locally. Limerick County Childcare Committee can be contacted at 061 600918, http://www.limerickchildcare.ie/

Childcare Services Data

Questions (647, 648, 649, 650, 651)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

647. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of childcare places available for children that are 0 to one years of age available in counties Meath, Kildare, Louth, Wicklow and Dublin by local electoral area or town in each year since 2015, in tabular form. [52856/19]

View answer

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

648. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of childcare places available for children that are one to two years of age available in counties Meath, Kildare, Louth, Wicklow and Dublin by local electoral area or town in each year since 2015, in tabular form. [52857/19]

View answer

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

649. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of childcare places available for children that are two to three years of age available in counties Meath, Kildare, Louth, Wicklow and Dublin by local electoral area or town in each year since 2015, in tabular form. [52858/19]

View answer

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

650. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of childcare places available for children that are three to four years of age available in counties Meath, Kildare, Louth, Wicklow and Dublin by local electoral area or town in each year since 2015, in tabular form. [52859/19]

View answer

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

651. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of childcare places available for children that are 4 to 5 years of age available in counties Meath, Kildare, Louth, Wicklow and Dublin by local electoral area or town in each year since 2015, in tabular form. [52860/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 647 to 651 together.

Officials in my Department are currently compiling the information as requested by the Deputy. This information will be supplied to the Deputy in no later than 10 working days. I have asked my officials to follow up on this to ensure delivery as a matter of urgency.