The resumption of the free pre-school ECCE programme has been postponed until 1 February, in line with primary and secondary schools. Other early learning and childcare and school-age childcare services (ELC/SAC services) can remain open to provide childcare to the children of essential workers and to vulnerable children.
ELC/SAC services which are providing childcare to the children of essential workers or vulnerable children will continue to receive funding under all Department funding schemes, for all children registered on these schemes, which includes ECCE, NCS and CCSP/TEC, whether those children are attending or not.
If providers have no eligible children in their service, or if the parents of eligible children inform the provider that they do not wish to take up their child's place, the service can close with force majeure permission and continued funding under Department funding schemes.
If a service has demand for childcare from an essential worker or on behalf on a vulnerable child, that service should open and provide the care. A service which closes and does not provide care for an eligible child, will not be granted force majeure permission, and therefore will be in breach of their contract with the Department. Services which close without force majeure permission, or by direction by public health authorities, will not receive funding under the Department schemes for the period 11 January to 31 January.