Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Questions (70)

Kathleen Funchion

Question:

70. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration if his attention has been drawn to the fact that there are some serious ongoing issues in terms of the service Pobal is providing for childcare providers (details supplied). [31311/20]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

I have been informed by Pobal they managed exceptionally high volumes of contacts from providers during the months of August and September, and that the volume of contacts, including emails and phone calls, was three times higher than the same period last year.

Pobal have implemented a number of measures to enable them to respond to the increased volumes. They have recruited additional staff and they have extended their working hours. They have developed additional user guides to help providers to navigate the on-line system, the Hive, and have run a number of on-line training sessions for providers. In addition, Pobal has provided training to the County Childcare Committees to enable them to support providers in using the Hive.

The wider context of ongoing management of the new schemes announced in direct response to the Covid-19 situation including the Temporary Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme (TWSCS), the COVID 19 Capital funding and the Reopening Support Payment, coupled with the migration of the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme to the Hive added to the usual level of engagement with service providers. This resulted in the average call handling time to the provider call centre of over 12 minutes in August and over 13 minutes in September.

Demand from providers has reducing since the beginning of October, and of the week of 12 October, the average wait time on calls has been less two minutes.