Thursday, 11 February 2021

Questions (198)

Neale Richmond


198. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth if parents who can avail of the ECCE scheme but choose to use the national childcare scheme will be allocated the same number of hours under the NCS as they would under the ECCE scheme in order to support parents through the Covid-19 restrictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7618/21]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

As the Deputy will be aware with the resumption of the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme is being postponed until 5 March 2021, services that provide the ECCE Programme only are to remain closed during this period. Other types of ELC/SAC services, including services that provide full day care, part-time day care, stand-alone school-age childcare services and childminders can continue to operate to provide ELC/SAC to:

- children who have a parent who works in an essential service; and/or

- Vulnerable children

Arising from this from 1 February until 5 March there are different approaches to funding services depending on whether they are open or closed. There are also two streams of funding available: standard and enhanced payments.

The standard and enhanced payments reflect the need for DCEDIY to make certain adjustments to ensure the equitable distribution of funding to best support the sector. Such decisions are made with consideration to the totality of funding made available to the sector by the State.

Standard payments from DCEDIY include:

- Continued payment for registered children of 100% of NCS, CCSP and TEC

- 100% payment for AIM

- Continued payment of 70% of the value of current ECCE registrations

Enhanced payments from DCEDIY, subject to agree to certain terms and conditions, include:

- Payment of 30% of the value of current ECCE registrations

- A Covid-19 Operating Support Payment (COSP) for services that may have a high degree of reliance on parental fees

- Access to Covid-19 Sustainability funding where a requirement is established.

ELC/SAC services continue to be entitled to access the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) and all are encouraged to do so.

The NCS is available for families of ECCE-age children on a “wrap-around” basis in term time. During term time, a child’s NCS award will be exclusive of the time they spend in ECCE as this is already funded by the Department. Outside of term time, a child’s full NCS hours can be utilised. As the ECCE funding is being continued as described above providers do not need to change their NCS registrations to account for ECCE hours.

This wrap-around occurs regardless of whether the family chooses to utilise their access to ECCE. As such the situation the Deputy describes cannot arise under current arrangements.