Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries

<div class="sub-header">
<h3>Questions (189)</h3>
</div>

<div class="question" id="pq_189">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Catherine-Connolly.D.2016-10-03/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Catherine-Connolly.D.2016-10-03/image/thumb" alt="Catherine Connolly"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Catherine-Connolly.D.2016-10-03/">Catherine Connolly</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="social-share">
<a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/189/question/189/" data-share-text="Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries" title="Share question #189 by Catherine Connolly">
<i>Share</i>
</a>
</div>
<div class="content"><h4 class="from">Catherine Connolly</h4><span class="question-start">Question:</span>
<p id="para_2688" class="">189. <strong>Deputy Catherine Connolly</strong> asked the <strong>Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</strong> the number of persons to whom a draft report or relevant part of the draft report of the commission of investigation into mother and baby homes was sent pursuant to section 34 of the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7518/21]</p>
<a class="view-answer" href="#pq-answers-189">View answer</a></div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="sub-header" id="pq-answers-189">
<h3>Written answers (Question to Children)</h3>
</div><div class="speech" id="spk_420">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/image/thumb" alt="Roderic O'Gorman"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/">Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="content"><div class="social-share"><a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/189/speech/420/" data-share-text="Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries" title="Share speech #420 by Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth"><i>Share</i></a></div>

<p id="para_2689" class="">As the Deputy will be aware, a statutory Commission of Investigation is independent of Government in the conduct of its investigations. This independence, which is provided for in law, is a fundamental principle in the establishment of an inquiry under the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004. As the specified Minister for receiving its reports, I had no role or influence in how the Commission conducted its work.</p>
<p id="para_2690" class=""> I am therefore not in a position to provide any clarity on the number of persons to whom a draft report or relevant part of the draft report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes was sent pursuant to section 34 of the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004.</p>
</div>
</div>
</div>

Local Authority Funding

<div class="sub-header">
<h3>Questions (190)</h3>
</div>

<div class="question" id="pq_190">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Catherine-Murphy.D.2005-03-11/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Catherine-Murphy.D.2005-03-11/image/thumb" alt="Catherine Murphy"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Catherine-Murphy.D.2005-03-11/">Catherine Murphy</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="social-share">
<a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/190/question/190/" data-share-text="Local Authority Funding" title="Share question #190 by Catherine Murphy">
<i>Share</i>
</a>
</div>
<div class="content"><h4 class="from">Catherine Murphy</h4><span class="question-start">Question:</span>
<p id="para_2691" class="">190. <strong>Deputy Catherine Murphy</strong> asked the <strong>Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</strong> the payments to local authorities under programmes for Traveller support initiatives and migrant integration by county in each of the years 2018 to 2020, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7548/21]</p>
<a class="view-answer" href="#pq-answers-190">View answer</a></div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="sub-header" id="pq-answers-190">
<h3>Written answers (Question to Children)</h3>
</div><div class="speech" id="spk_421">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/image/thumb" alt="Roderic O'Gorman"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/">Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="content"><div class="social-share"><a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/190/speech/421/" data-share-text="Local Authority Funding" title="Share speech #421 by Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth"><i>Share</i></a></div>

<p id="para_2692" class="">I can advise the Deputy that the attached table sets out the payment provided to local authorities under programmes for Traveller Support initiatives and migrant integration for the years 2018 to 2020.</p>
<p id="para_2693" class="">
<strong>Community Integration Funding</strong>
</p>
<p id="para_2694" class="">
<strong>Amounts Awarded</strong>
</p>
<table>
<tr>
<td>
<p id="para_2695" class=""/>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2696" class="">2018</p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2697" class="">2019</p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2698" class="">2020</p>
</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<p id="para_2699" class="">Fingal Co. Co.</p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2700" class="">5,000</p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2701" class=""/>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2702" class=""/>
</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<p id="para_2703" class="">Wexford Co. Co.</p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2704" class="">5,000</p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2705" class=""/>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2706" class=""/>
</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<p id="para_2707" class="">Waterford City</p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2708" class="">5,000</p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2709" class="">5,000</p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2710" class=""/>
</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<p id="para_2711" class="">Cork Co. Co.</p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2712" class="">3,209</p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2713" class="">2,720</p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2714" class=""/>
</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<p id="para_2715" class="">South Dublin Co. Co.</p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2716" class="">2,472</p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2717" class="">4,200</p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2718" class="">2,720</p>
</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<p id="para_2719" class="">Limerick City &amp; County</p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2720" class=""/>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2721" class=""/>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2722" class=""/>
</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<p id="para_2723" class=""> Total</p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2724" class=""> 20,681</p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2725" class=""> 11,920</p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2726" class=""> 2,720</p>
<p id="para_2727" class=""/>
</td>
</tr>
</table>
<p id="para_2728" class="">
<strong>Traveller and Roma</strong>
</p>
<table>
<tr>
<td>
<p id="para_2729" class="">Carlow Co. Co.</p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2730" class="">17,360</p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2731" class="">14,467</p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2732" class="">17,360</p>
</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<p id="para_2733" class=""> Total </p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2734" class=""> 17,360</p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2735" class=""> 14,467</p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2736" class=""> 17,360</p>
</td>
</tr>
</table>
<p id="para_2737" class="">
<strong>In 2020, the Department of Justice and Equality ran a Call for Proposals under National Integration Funding. The following Local Authorities were approved funding</strong>
</p>
<table>
<tr>
<td>
<p id="para_2738" class="">Meath Co. Co</p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2739" class=""/>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2740" class=""/>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2741" class="">132,480</p>
</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<p id="para_2742" class="">Fingal Co. Co.</p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2743" class=""/>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2744" class=""/>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2745" class="">22,500</p>
</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<p id="para_2746" class="">Tipperary Co. Co.</p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2747" class=""/>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2748" class=""/>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2749" class="">40,500</p>
</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<p id="para_2750" class="">Total</p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2751" class=""/>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2752" class=""/>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2753" class="">195,480 </p>
</td>
</tr>
</table>
<p id="para_2754" class="">
<strong>In 2019, the Department of Justice and Equality launched a Call for Proposals under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund 2014-2020. One Local Authority project was approved.</strong>
</p>
<table>
<tr>
<td>
<p id="para_2755" class="">Monaghan Co. Co.</p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2756" class=""/>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2757" class="">150,000</p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2758" class=""/>
</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<p id="para_2759" class="">Total </p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2760" class=""/>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2761" class="">150,000</p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2762" class=""/>
</td>
</tr>
</table>
</div>
</div>
</div>

Childcare Services

<div class="sub-header">
<h3>Questions (191, 192, 201)</h3>
</div>

<div class="question" id="pq_191">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/image/thumb" alt="Neale Richmond"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/">Neale Richmond</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="social-share">
<a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/191/question/191/" data-share-text="Childcare Services" title="Share question #191 by Neale Richmond">
<i>Share</i>
</a>
</div>
<div class="content"><h4 class="from">Neale Richmond</h4><span class="question-start">Question:</span>
<p id="para_2763" class="">191. <strong>Deputy Neale Richmond</strong> asked the <strong>Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</strong> if childcare providers are permitted to continue to charge fees for parents who cannot avail of their services throughout level 5 restrictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7611/21]</p>
<a class="view-answer" href="#pq-answers-191_192_201">View answer</a></div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="question" id="pq_192">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/image/thumb" alt="Neale Richmond"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/">Neale Richmond</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="social-share">
<a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/191/question/192/" data-share-text="Childcare Services" title="Share question #192 by Neale Richmond">
<i>Share</i>
</a>
</div>
<div class="content"><h4 class="from">Neale Richmond</h4><span class="question-start">Question:</span>
<p id="para_2764" class="">192. <strong>Deputy Neale Richmond</strong> asked the <strong>Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</strong> if he has encouraged childcare providers to refund fees already charged to parents who cannot access their services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7612/21]</p>
<a class="view-answer" href="#pq-answers-191_192_201">View answer</a></div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="question" id="pq_201">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/image/thumb" alt="Neale Richmond"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/">Neale Richmond</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="social-share">
<a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/191/question/201/" data-share-text="Childcare Services" title="Share question #201 by Neale Richmond">
<i>Share</i>
</a>
</div>
<div class="content"><h4 class="from">Neale Richmond</h4><span class="question-start">Question:</span>
<p id="para_2765" class="">201. <strong>Deputy Neale Richmond</strong> asked the <strong>Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</strong> if crèches who refuse the additional funding announced by him on 27 January 2021 still continue to charge fees to parents who are not permitted to use their service due to restrictions or parents who are permitted to avail of childcare but opt not to do so; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7621/21]</p>
<a class="view-answer" href="#pq-answers-191_192_201">View answer</a></div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="sub-header" id="pq-answers-191_192_201">
<h3>Written answers (Question to Children)</h3>
</div><div class="speech" id="spk_422">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/image/thumb" alt="Roderic O'Gorman"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/">Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="content"><div class="social-share"><a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/191/speech/422/" data-share-text="Childcare Services" title="Share speech #422 by Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth"><i>Share</i></a></div>

<p id="para_2766" class="">I propose to take Questions Nos. 191, 192 and 201 together.</p>
<p id="para_2767" class=""> Government decided on 6 January that, in order to reduce movement in the population, the ECCE programme would not resume until 1 February. It has now been agreed that the programme will remain suspended during extended restrictions up to 5 March. Other Early Learning and Childcare and School-Age Childcare services (ELC/SAC services) can remain open on a restricted basis, to offer services to the children of essential workers and to vulnerable children only. </p>
<p id="para_2768" class=""> ELC and SAC services are provided by private enterprises, either privately owned or operated by community organisations. While service providers are contracted by the Department to provide services at a subsidised rate to parents, they are free to set their own policies regarding the charging of fees and contract conditions. </p>
<p id="para_2769" class=""> My Department is aware that many providers have already chosen to refund, waive or credit fees for families not currently using early learning and childcare services and I welcome this.</p>
<p id="para_2770" class=""> To further encourage and support providers (some of whom may have a higher reliance on fees), my Department has restructured the provision of funding during the February 1 to March 5 period into standard and enhanced funding with certain conditions for services who opt to avail of enhanced funding.</p>
<p id="para_2771" class=""> Where a provider has opted to avail of this enhanced funding, they are required to waive fees for children not attending, as well as retaining staff, keeping places for families and engaging with children who are not attending. This applies to both open and closed services. </p>
<p id="para_2772" class=""> If providers do not access the conditional funding, they may still request fees from parents.</p>
<p id="para_2773" class=""> Contract terms between providers and parents may stipulate specific obligations of both parties.</p>
<p id="para_2774" class=""> Providers have been asked to bear in mind that parents have a broad range of personal circumstances in these challenging times and to consider what arrangements (e.g. refunds or fee credits) can be made for parents who do not wish not to take up an ELC/SAC place at this time.</p>
<p id="para_2775" class=""> The DCEDIY acknowledges that the relationship between a service and parent is a private one based on a contract between those two parties. </p>
<p id="para_2776" class=""> Providers will be able to confirm if they are receiving enhanced funding, and consequently, their fee arrangements. They will also be able to clarify refund or credit arrangements for any pre-paid fees.</p>
</div>
</div>
</div>

Covid-19 Pandemic

<div class="sub-header">
<h3>Questions (193)</h3>
</div>

<div class="question" id="pq_193">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/image/thumb" alt="Neale Richmond"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/">Neale Richmond</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="social-share">
<a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/193/question/193/" data-share-text="Covid-19 Pandemic" title="Share question #193 by Neale Richmond">
<i>Share</i>
</a>
</div>
<div class="content"><h4 class="from">Neale Richmond</h4><span class="question-start">Question:</span>
<p id="para_2777" class="">193. <strong>Deputy Neale Richmond</strong> asked the <strong>Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</strong> the supports in place to protect childcare workers such as enhanced PPE, mass Covid-19 testing and so on; his views on whether these supports are sufficient; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7613/21]</p>
<a class="view-answer" href="#pq-answers-193">View answer</a></div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="sub-header" id="pq-answers-193">
<h3>Written answers (Question to Children)</h3>
</div><div class="speech" id="spk_423">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/image/thumb" alt="Roderic O'Gorman"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/">Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="content"><div class="social-share"><a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/193/speech/423/" data-share-text="Covid-19 Pandemic" title="Share speech #423 by Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth"><i>Share</i></a></div>

<p id="para_2778" class="">Public health experts have confirmed that Early Learning and Care (ELC) and School Age Childcare (SAC) services may continue to operate during the current Level 5 restrictions. While no environment is without risk in relation to Covid-19, and this has been the case throughout the pandemic, services can significantly reduce their risk level by closely following the expert guidance provided by the HSE. This expert guidance was prepared specifically for ELC and SAC services by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) and is available at https://www.hpsc.ie/a-z/respiratory/coronavirus/novelcoronavirus/guidance/childcareguidance/Guidance%20for%20services%20providing%20childcare%20services.pdf.</p>
<p id="para_2779" class=""> The advice from the HSE is that no change is required to the Infection Prevention and Control guidance for settings providing ELC/SAC during the pandemic. Services have been following this guidance effectively since reopening last June and it has helped to minimise risk of spread of infection within settings. My Department, in conjunction with the HSE, will keep this under review and will update as appropriate.</p>
<p id="para_2780" class=""> It is also important to remember that the incidence of Covid-19 positive cases in children under 13 remains significantly lower than the population at large. </p>
<p id="para_2781" class=""> In relation to PPE, face coverings must be worn by staff in ELC and SAC settings at all times other than when providing direct care to children. If a practitioner wishes to wear a face covering at all times, including when providing direct care for children, they may do so.</p>
<p id="para_2782" class=""> Services are also required to keep a small supply of surgical masks for use in situations where a staff member who is caring for a symptomatic child awaiting collection by their parent. Other additional PPE, over and above normal requirements for childcare services, is not required.</p>
<p id="para_2783" class=""> Public health advice is that neither staff nor children need to be tested for Covid-19 unless they are displaying symptoms or have been identified as a close contact and have been referred for testing.</p>
<p id="para_2784" class=""> The HSE has put in place specific arrangements for Covid-19 testing in schools and ELC/SACservices. Where a confirmed case has been in a service during the infectious period, public health will continue to work with the service to identify close contacts and advise on appropriate action to be taken. This will include testing of close contacts as required. Weekly reports on mass testing in schools and ELC/SAC services are available at https://www.hse.ie/eng/services/news/newsfeatures/covid19-updates/covid-19-schools-mass-testing-report.html.</p>
</div>
</div>
</div>

Childcare Services

<div class="sub-header">
<h3>Questions (194)</h3>
</div>

<div class="question" id="pq_194">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/image/thumb" alt="Neale Richmond"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/">Neale Richmond</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="social-share">
<a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/194/question/194/" data-share-text="Childcare Services" title="Share question #194 by Neale Richmond">
<i>Share</i>
</a>
</div>
<div class="content"><h4 class="from">Neale Richmond</h4><span class="question-start">Question:</span>
<p id="para_2785" class="">194. <strong>Deputy Neale Richmond</strong> asked the <strong>Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</strong> his views on whether remuneration for childcare providers is satisfactory; the steps he has taken to engage with providers and representative bodies on this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7614/21]</p>
<a class="view-answer" href="#pq-answers-194">View answer</a></div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="sub-header" id="pq-answers-194">
<h3>Written answers (Question to Children)</h3>
</div><div class="speech" id="spk_424">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/image/thumb" alt="Roderic O'Gorman"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/">Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="content"><div class="social-share"><a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/194/speech/424/" data-share-text="Childcare Services" title="Share speech #424 by Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth"><i>Share</i></a></div>

<p id="para_2786" class="">I am very conscious need for significant improvement in pay and working conditions for practitioners in early learning and care and school-age childcare services. I also accept that the level of pay they receive does not reflect the value of the work they do for children, for families and for the wider society and economy. It also contributes to challenges of recruitment and retention of staff, which are key to the consistency of care provided to children. The most recent published data indicates that the average hourly wage in the sector was €12.55 in mid-2019. </p>
<p id="para_2787" class=""> As the State is not the employer, my Department does not set wage levels nor determine working conditions for staff working in the sector. My Department has, however, over a number of years provided a range of supports to service providers to enable them to improve wages and working conditions. However, wages in the sector remain too low. Given the importance of the issue, it is imperative that my Department continues to engage with provider and staff representatives.</p>
<p id="para_2788" class=""> The Programme for Government contains a commitment to “support the establishment of a Joint Labour Committee in the childcare sector and the drawing up of an Employment Regulation Order, which would determine minimum rates of pay for childcare workers, as well as terms and conditions of employment”.</p>
<p id="para_2789" class=""> To progress this commitment, in December 2020, working in partnership with SIPTU and CSI/IBEC, I began a short process in which interested parties were invited to discuss how best to address issues of pay and conditions in the sector and how a Joint Labour Committee might support this. Dr Kevin Duffy, former Chair of the Labour Court, chaired the meetings, which concluded in the last few days. Dr Duffy will shortly submit to me a report outlining the issues and possible solutions raised in the process, and making a recommendation on next steps. I am hopeful that implementation of his recommendations will support progress in addressing pay and conditions in the sector.</p>
</div>
</div>
</div>

Early Childhood Care and Education

<div class="sub-header">
<h3>Questions (195)</h3>
</div>

<div class="question" id="pq_195">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/image/thumb" alt="Neale Richmond"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/">Neale Richmond</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="social-share">
<a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/195/question/195/" data-share-text="Early Childhood Care and Education" title="Share question #195 by Neale Richmond">
<i>Share</i>
</a>
</div>
<div class="content"><h4 class="from">Neale Richmond</h4><span class="question-start">Question:</span>
<p id="para_2790" class="">195. <strong>Deputy Neale Richmond</strong> asked the <strong>Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</strong> when children with additional needs who avail of the ECCE scheme will be permitted to return to crèches; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7615/21]</p>
<a class="view-answer" href="#pq-answers-195">View answer</a></div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="sub-header" id="pq-answers-195">
<h3>Written answers (Question to Children)</h3>
</div><div class="speech" id="spk_425">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/image/thumb" alt="Roderic O'Gorman"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/">Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="content"><div class="social-share"><a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/195/speech/425/" data-share-text="Early Childhood Care and Education" title="Share speech #425 by Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth"><i>Share</i></a></div>

<p id="para_2791" class="">The ECCE programme is currently suspended during Covid-19 restrictions up to 5 March, with the timeframe remaining subject to review in the context of the evolving public health circumstances. During this period, early learning and care (ELC) and school-age childcare (SAC) services remain open on a restricted basis, to offer services to the children of essential workers and to vulnerable children.</p>
<p id="para_2792" class=""> To provide clarity both for parents and for ELC/SAC services, the Department has published FAQs and guidance documents, including guidance on the eligibility of children who may attend services, which may be obtained from the following link: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/240258-up-to-date-information-on-covid-19/</p>
<p id="para_2793" class=""> To support families whose children of pre-school age are at home at this time, the Department launched a Preschool at Home Hub on the First 5 website (https://first5.gov.ie/parents/pre-school-at-home), which provides a range of activities, for all abilities, to support and encourage children’s interests and to keep children playing and learning at home. In addition the Department has encouraged all ELC services to reach out to children who benefit from targeted supports under the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) but who cannot attend the service during this period.</p>
</div>
</div>
</div>

Childcare Services

<div class="sub-header">
<h3>Questions (196)</h3>
</div>

<div class="question" id="pq_196">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/image/thumb" alt="Neale Richmond"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/">Neale Richmond</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="social-share">
<a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/196/question/196/" data-share-text="Childcare Services" title="Share question #196 by Neale Richmond">
<i>Share</i>
</a>
</div>
<div class="content"><h4 class="from">Neale Richmond</h4><span class="question-start">Question:</span>
<p id="para_2794" class="">196. <strong>Deputy Neale Richmond</strong> asked the <strong>Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</strong> if the return of children with additional needs to crèches is a priority for his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7616/21]</p>
<a class="view-answer" href="#pq-answers-196">View answer</a></div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="sub-header" id="pq-answers-196">
<h3>Written answers (Question to Children)</h3>
</div><div class="speech" id="spk_426">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/image/thumb" alt="Roderic O'Gorman"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/">Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="content"><div class="social-share"><a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/196/speech/426/" data-share-text="Childcare Services" title="Share speech #426 by Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth"><i>Share</i></a></div>

<p id="para_2795" class="">On 26 January, Government made the decision to extend the suspension of the ECCE programme and to continue to restrict access to other early learning and care (ELC) and school-age childcare (SAC) services to the children of essential workers and to vulnerable children. The decision to postpone resumption of the ECCE programme and to restrict access to ELC/SAC services only to children of essential workers and vulnerable children has been taken in order to minimise the movement of people at a time of elevated levels of infection of Covid-19 in the community, whilst at the same time providing a service for those who most need it. It is currently planned for these arrangements to be in place until 5 March. This timeframe remains subject to review in the context of the evolving public health circumstances.</p>
<p id="para_2796" class=""> During this period of extended restrictions, my Department has committed to continuing to provide AIM (Access and Inclusion Model) funding to ELC services. In addition my Department has asked that services in receipt of AIM funding reach out to children who were benefiting from targeted AIM supports and who are currently at home. </p>
<p id="para_2797" class=""> To help parents and ELC services to support children of pre-school age who are at home at this time, my Department recently launched a Pre-School at Home Hub which provides a range of activities for all abilities to support and encourage children’s interests and to keep children playing and learning at home. The Hub includes specific activities for children with additional needs. More information on this resource can be found at https://first5.gov.ie/parents/pre-school-at-home.</p>
</div>
</div>
</div>

Childcare Services

<div class="sub-header">
<h3>Questions (197)</h3>
</div>

<div class="question" id="pq_197">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/image/thumb" alt="Neale Richmond"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/">Neale Richmond</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="social-share">
<a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/197/question/197/" data-share-text="Childcare Services" title="Share question #197 by Neale Richmond">
<i>Share</i>
</a>
</div>
<div class="content"><h4 class="from">Neale Richmond</h4><span class="question-start">Question:</span>
<p id="para_2798" class="">197. <strong>Deputy Neale Richmond</strong> asked the <strong>Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</strong> if he has engaged with childcare providers on extending their opening hours to ease the burden on front-line workers and parents working from home; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7617/21]</p>
<a class="view-answer" href="#pq-answers-197">View answer</a></div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="sub-header" id="pq-answers-197">
<h3>Written answers (Question to Children)</h3>
</div><div class="speech" id="spk_427">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/image/thumb" alt="Roderic O'Gorman"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/">Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="content"><div class="social-share"><a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/197/speech/427/" data-share-text="Childcare Services" title="Share speech #427 by Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth"><i>Share</i></a></div>

<p id="para_2799" class="">Government decided on 6 January that, in order to reduce movement in the population, the ECCE programme would not resume until 1 February. It has now been agreed that the programme will remain suspended during extended restrictions up to 5 March. Other Early Learning and Childcare and School-Age Childcare services (ELC/SAC services) can remain open on a restricted basis, to offer services to the children of essential workers and to vulnerable children only. </p>
<p id="para_2800" class=""> Childminders can also continue to provide services to children of essential workers and vulnerable children at this time. A further option is for a household of an essential worker to form a bubble with another household for the purpose of providing childcare. </p>
<p id="para_2801" class=""> Essential workers are those that work in the list of essential services published on gov.ie. One parent who is an essential worker confers eligibility on the child to access a service. For the purposes of accessing ELC/SAC, an essential worker may be working from home.</p>
<p id="para_2802" class=""> ELC/SAC services are provided by private enterprises, either privately owned or operated by community organisations. While service providers are contracted by the Department to provide services at a subsidised rate to parents, they are free to set their own policies regarding their opening hours and other matters. </p>
<p id="para_2803" class=""> I have asked ELC/SAC providers to ensure that a place is available for all children of essential workers within their service. I am aware that providers are making significant efforts to accommodate the children of essential workers and vulnerable children at this time and I welcome this.</p>
</div>
</div>
</div>

Childcare Services

<div class="sub-header">
<h3>Questions (198)</h3>
</div>

<div class="question" id="pq_198">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/image/thumb" alt="Neale Richmond"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/">Neale Richmond</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="social-share">
<a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/198/question/198/" data-share-text="Childcare Services" title="Share question #198 by Neale Richmond">
<i>Share</i>
</a>
</div>
<div class="content"><h4 class="from">Neale Richmond</h4><span class="question-start">Question:</span>
<p id="para_2804" class="">198. <strong>Deputy Neale Richmond</strong> asked the <strong>Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</strong> 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]</p>
<a class="view-answer" href="#pq-answers-198">View answer</a></div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="sub-header" id="pq-answers-198">
<h3>Written answers (Question to Children)</h3>
</div><div class="speech" id="spk_428">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/image/thumb" alt="Roderic O'Gorman"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/">Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="content"><div class="social-share"><a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/198/speech/428/" data-share-text="Childcare Services" title="Share speech #428 by Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth"><i>Share</i></a></div>

<p id="para_2805" class="">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:</p>
<p id="para_2806" class=""> - children who have a parent who works in an essential service; and/or</p>
<p id="para_2807" class=""> - Vulnerable children</p>
<p id="para_2808" class=""> 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. </p>
<p id="para_2809" class=""> 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.</p>
<p id="para_2810" class="">
<strong>Standard payments from DCEDIY include:</strong>
</p>
<p id="para_2811" class=""> - Continued payment for registered children of 100% of NCS, CCSP and TEC</p>
<p id="para_2812" class=""> - 100% payment for AIM</p>
<p id="para_2813" class=""> - Continued payment of 70% of the value of current ECCE registrations</p>
<p id="para_2814" class=""><strong>Enhanced payments from DCEDIY, subject to agree to certain terms and conditions, include</strong>:</p>
<p id="para_2815" class=""> - Payment of 30% of the value of current ECCE registrations</p>
<p id="para_2816" class=""> - A Covid-19 Operating Support Payment (COSP) for services that may have a high degree of reliance on parental fees </p>
<p id="para_2817" class=""> - Access to Covid-19 Sustainability funding where a requirement is established.</p>
<p id="para_2818" class=""> ELC/SAC services continue to be entitled to access the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) and all are encouraged to do so.</p>
<p id="para_2819" class=""> 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.</p>
<p id="para_2820" class=""> 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. </p>
</div>
</div>
</div>

National Childcare Scheme

<div class="sub-header">
<h3>Questions (199)</h3>
</div>

<div class="question" id="pq_199">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/image/thumb" alt="Neale Richmond"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/">Neale Richmond</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="social-share">
<a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/199/question/199/" data-share-text="National Childcare Scheme" title="Share question #199 by Neale Richmond">
<i>Share</i>
</a>
</div>
<div class="content"><h4 class="from">Neale Richmond</h4><span class="question-start">Question:</span>
<p id="para_2821" class="">199. <strong>Deputy Neale Richmond</strong> asked the <strong>Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</strong> if parents applying for the national childcare scheme should be permitted to apply with their 2019 tax return as in the case of farmers who file their returns a year behind and are being penalised when applying to the scheme as they do not have their 2020 returns yet; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7619/21]</p>
<a class="view-answer" href="#pq-answers-199">View answer</a></div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="sub-header" id="pq-answers-199">
<h3>Written answers (Question to Children)</h3>
</div><div class="speech" id="spk_429">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/image/thumb" alt="Roderic O'Gorman"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/">Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="content"><div class="social-share"><a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/199/speech/429/" data-share-text="National Childcare Scheme" title="Share speech #429 by Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth"><i>Share</i></a></div>

<p id="para_2822" class="">The National Childcare Scheme (NCS) represents the first ever statutory entitlement to financial support for childcare in Ireland. It is based on the principle of progressive universalism and has regard to the best interests of children. </p>
<p id="para_2823" class=""> The NCS offers a flexible application process, with a variety of assessment options for parents to assess their most recent income circumstances. One of these is a Current Year Assessment. This allows parents to have their current year’s income assessed to determine their level of subsidy, rather than the default option of the previous tax year. This could more accurately reflect their current income level. </p>
<p id="para_2824" class=""> In addition, the ‘Sudden Change Assessment’ option allows for applicants to declare that they have had an ongoing change to their income. This applies to people who have lost a job or their income has reduced on an ongoing basis for reasons outside of their control. This measure will be of benefit to many parents who have had their income impacted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.</p>
<p id="para_2825" class=""> Parents will need to complete a new NCS application to avail of this measure.</p>
</div>
</div>
</div>

Childcare Services

Question No. 201 answered with Question No. 191.

<div class="sub-header">
<h3>Questions (200)</h3>
</div>

<div class="question" id="pq_200">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/image/thumb" alt="Neale Richmond"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/">Neale Richmond</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="social-share">
<a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/200/question/200/" data-share-text="Childcare Services" title="Share question #200 by Neale Richmond">
<i>Share</i>
</a>
</div>
<div class="content"><h4 class="from">Neale Richmond</h4><span class="question-start">Question:</span>
<p id="para_2826" class="">200. <strong>Deputy Neale Richmond</strong> asked the <strong>Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</strong> if an attempt has been made to improve lines of communication between his Department and childcare providers in terms of giving as much notice as possible before announcements are made and making these within working hours; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7620/21]</p>
<a class="view-answer" href="#pq-answers-200">View answer</a></div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="sub-header" id="pq-answers-200">
<h3>Written answers (Question to Children)</h3>
</div><div class="speech" id="spk_430">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/image/thumb" alt="Roderic O'Gorman"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/">Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="content"><div class="social-share"><a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/200/speech/430/" data-share-text="Childcare Services" title="Share speech #430 by Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth"><i>Share</i></a></div>

<p id="para_2827" class="">My Department is committed to clear, concise and timely communications with the early learning and care and school age childcare sector, at all times, but particularly during this pandemic.</p>
<p id="para_2828" class=""> I acknowledge that a number of recent communications from my Department to childcare providers during current level 5 restrictions have necessitated communications being issued after 5pm. </p>
<p id="para_2829" class=""> I wish to advise the Deputy, my Department's intention in respect of these communications was to ensure that the latest information and FAQs on such supports were made available to providers at the earliest opportunity rather than delaying their circulation until the following morning.</p>
<p id="para_2830" class=""> I understand and appreciate that communications received in the evenings may cause concern and inconvenience. Accordingly, I have asked officials in my Department to ensure, where possible, that future communications issue to childcare providers during normal business hours.</p>
</div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="ak-summary">
<em> Question No. 201 answered with Question No. 191.</em>
</div>

Childcare Services

<div class="sub-header">
<h3>Questions (202)</h3>
</div>

<div class="question" id="pq_202">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/image/thumb" alt="Neale Richmond"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/">Neale Richmond</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="social-share">
<a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/202/question/202/" data-share-text="Childcare Services" title="Share question #202 by Neale Richmond">
<i>Share</i>
</a>
</div>
<div class="content"><h4 class="from">Neale Richmond</h4><span class="question-start">Question:</span>
<p id="para_2831" class="">202. <strong>Deputy Neale Richmond</strong> asked the <strong>Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</strong> the steps his Department has taken to ensure that there are sufficient childcare places for all children who require them in a timely manner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7622/21]</p>
<a class="view-answer" href="#pq-answers-202">View answer</a></div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="sub-header" id="pq-answers-202">
<h3>Written answers (Question to Children)</h3>
</div><div class="speech" id="spk_431">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/image/thumb" alt="Roderic O'Gorman"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/">Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="content"><div class="social-share"><a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/202/speech/431/" data-share-text="Childcare Services" title="Share speech #431 by Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth"><i>Share</i></a></div>

<p id="para_2832" class="">A key policy objective of my Department is to improve affordability, accessibility and quality of Early Learning and Care (ELC) and School-Age Childcare (SAC). A significant increase in investment over the last number of years has led to a doubling in the number of children receiving free or subsidised early learning and care and school-age childcare. It has also supported the sector to increase the number of places available.</p>
<p id="para_2833" class=""> First 5, the ten-year whole-of-Government strategy for babies, young children and their families pledges to build on this progress. Among key strategic actions in First 5 is a commitment to 'maintain and extend the supply of high-quality publicly subsidised ELC and SAC to best serve the developmental needs of babies and young children, ensuring that it also reflects the needs and preferences of parents and families'.</p>
<p id="para_2834" class=""> To deliver on this strategic action, a range of actions are under way, including an update of the National Planning Guidelines for the development of early learning and care and school-age childcare settings, the extension of regulation to all paid, non-relative childminders on a phased basis and the development of a strategic capital investment plan to deliver large-scale capital investment under Project 2040. The development of a new funding model for ELC and SAC also seeks to address issues of accessibility. </p>
<p id="para_2835" class=""> There is also a commitment to strengthen capacity to accurately forecast supply and demand for early learning and care and school-age childcare. Supply of, and demand for, early learning and care and school-age childcare places is currently monitored annually through the Early Years Sector Profile. This survey is conducted by Pobal on behalf of the Department.</p>
<p id="para_2836" class=""> During COVID-19, officials in my Department are actively monitoring supply and demand in partnership with the CCCs . Any parent experiencing difficulty in accessing a place is advised to contact their local CCC at myccc.ie.</p>
<p id="para_2837" class=""> More information can be found at first5.gov.ie and at first5fundingmodel.gov.ie.</p>
</div>
</div>
</div>

Childcare Costs

<div class="sub-header">
<h3>Questions (203)</h3>
</div>

<div class="question" id="pq_203">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/image/thumb" alt="Neale Richmond"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/">Neale Richmond</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="social-share">
<a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/203/question/203/" data-share-text="Childcare Costs" title="Share question #203 by Neale Richmond">
<i>Share</i>
</a>
</div>
<div class="content"><h4 class="from">Neale Richmond</h4><span class="question-start">Question:</span>
<p id="para_2838" class="">203. <strong>Deputy Neale Richmond</strong> asked the <strong>Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</strong> the steps he has taken to ensure that childcare is affordable to parents; if he will ensure that one parent does not have to sacrifice their career to mind their child unless this is their preference; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7623/21]</p>
<a class="view-answer" href="#pq-answers-203">View answer</a></div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="sub-header" id="pq-answers-203">
<h3>Written answers (Question to Children)</h3>
</div><div class="speech" id="spk_432">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/image/thumb" alt="Roderic O'Gorman"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/">Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="content"><div class="social-share"><a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/203/speech/432/" data-share-text="Childcare Costs" title="Share speech #432 by Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth"><i>Share</i></a></div>

<p id="para_2839" class="">The NCS represents the first ever statutory entitlement to financial support for childcare in Ireland. It is based on the principle of progressive universalism and has regard to the best interests of children. </p>
<p id="para_2840" class=""> The Scheme aims to improve outcomes for children, reduce poverty, facilitate labour activation, and tangibly reduce the cost of childcare for tens of thousands of families.</p>
<p id="para_2841" class=""> It comprises two types of subsidies:</p>
<p id="para_2842" class=""> - A <strong>universal subsidy</strong> is payable for children between the ages of 24 weeks and 36 months (or until the child qualifies for the Early Childhood Care and Education programme if later) who are availing of childcare services from an approved childcare service provider. The universal subsidy is not means-tested and is available to all qualifying families of any income level.</p>
<p id="para_2843" class=""> - An <strong>income-related subsidy</strong> is payable for children from 24 weeks to 15 years of age who are availing of childcare services from an approved childcare service provider. The level of subsidy is determined by the family’s assessable income (i.e. gross income minus tax, PRSI and other deductibles and minus any applicable multiple child discount). </p>
<p id="para_2844" class=""> Families engaged in work or study can qualify for up to 45 hours of subsidised childcare per week. Families not engaged in work or study can qualify for up to 20 hours of subsidised childcare per week.</p>
<p id="para_2845" class=""> All children in the State are also entitled to two years of free pre-school provision under the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme. This provides 15 hours of free pre-school per week. </p>
<p id="para_2846" class=""> The NCS wraps around the hours a child spends participating in ECCE, so a child can benefit from both ECCE and NCS. During the ECCE term, the NCS hours within their award that exceed the 15 hours used for ECCE can be used throughout the year. Outside of the ECCE term, a family can avail of all eligible hours within their award.</p>
<p id="para_2847" class=""> Information on the NCS can be found at www.ncs.gov.ie and by phoning the Parent Support Centre at 01 906 8530. Parents can also contact their local City/County Childcare Committee to learn more about Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare supports available to them. Parents can find details about their local CCC at www.myccc.ie.</p>
</div>
</div>
</div>

Childcare Services

<div class="sub-header">
<h3>Questions (204)</h3>
</div>

<div class="question" id="pq_204">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/image/thumb" alt="Neale Richmond"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/">Neale Richmond</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="social-share">
<a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/204/question/204/" data-share-text="Childcare Services" title="Share question #204 by Neale Richmond">
<i>Share</i>
</a>
</div>
<div class="content"><h4 class="from">Neale Richmond</h4><span class="question-start">Question:</span>
<p id="para_2848" class="">204. <strong>Deputy Neale Richmond</strong> asked the <strong>Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</strong> if he has engaged with childcare providers to encourage them to take in young children aged one to two years to minimise the disruption to parents and their careers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7624/21]</p>
<a class="view-answer" href="#pq-answers-204">View answer</a></div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="sub-header" id="pq-answers-204">
<h3>Written answers (Question to Children)</h3>
</div><div class="speech" id="spk_433">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/image/thumb" alt="Roderic O'Gorman"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/">Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="content"><div class="social-share"><a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/204/speech/433/" data-share-text="Childcare Services" title="Share speech #433 by Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth"><i>Share</i></a></div>

<p id="para_2849" class="">The National Childcare Scheme (NCS) represents the first ever statutory entitlement to financial support for childcare in Ireland. </p>
<p id="para_2850" class=""> The NCS provides financial support to help parents to meet the cost of childcare. It provides supports to families with children aged between 24 weeks and 15 years who are attending any participating Tusla registered childcare service, including any Tusla registered childminder and Tusla registered school-age childcare services. </p>
<p id="para_2851" class=""> The NCS is based on the principle of progressive universalism, having regard to the best interests of children and to the needs of the most economically vulnerable. Those with the least income will get the highest subsidy. </p>
<p id="para_2852" class=""> It is also designed so that higher subsidies will be awarded to families with younger children, to reflect the higher cost of providing childcare for younger children because of the higher adult-child ratios required by the Early Years Regulations. A family with a 1-2 year child can receive a subsidy of up to €4.35. Under 1 would be up to €5.10 and school aged up to €3.75. This reflects the differing levels of costs associated with these development stages and regulatory requirements, and seeks to encourage provision for these ages.</p>
<p id="para_2853" class=""> My Department has, since 2015, administered an annual capital funding programme, and in recent years an objective of the funding has been to extend capacity with specific investment in the creation the creation of new places for 0-3 year olds. This has resulted in 4223 additional childcare places for 0-3 year olds.</p>
</div>
</div>
</div>

Childcare Services

<div class="sub-header">
<h3>Questions (205)</h3>
</div>

<div class="question" id="pq_205">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/image/thumb" alt="Neale Richmond"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/">Neale Richmond</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="social-share">
<a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/205/question/205/" data-share-text="Childcare Services" title="Share question #205 by Neale Richmond">
<i>Share</i>
</a>
</div>
<div class="content"><h4 class="from">Neale Richmond</h4><span class="question-start">Question:</span>
<p id="para_2854" class="">205. <strong>Deputy Neale Richmond</strong> asked the <strong>Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</strong> the progress that has been made towards State childcare as committed to in the programme for Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7626/21]</p>
<a class="view-answer" href="#pq-answers-205">View answer</a></div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="sub-header" id="pq-answers-205">
<h3>Written answers (Question to Children)</h3>
</div><div class="speech" id="spk_434">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/image/thumb" alt="Roderic O'Gorman"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/">Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="content"><div class="social-share"><a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/205/speech/434/" data-share-text="Childcare Services" title="Share speech #434 by Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth"><i>Share</i></a></div>

<p id="para_2855" class="">The Programme for Government agreed in June 2020 does commits to a range of measures to improve the affordability and quality of early learning and care (ELC) and school-age childcare (SAC), at service and system levels. </p>
<p id="para_2856" class=""> These commitments build on the existing State investment in the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) universal pre school programme which enables children to access 15 hours per week of ELC for the two years before starting primary school and the National Childcare Scheme which offers universal and targeted subsidies in respect of children participating in ELC and SAC, varying in line with the age of the child, household income and family composition. </p>
<p id="para_2857" class=""> Relevant Programme for Government commitments include measures to expand high-quality ELC and SAC, reforms of the ELC and SAC system, continued investment in NCS, fast-tracking the work of the Expert Group on a new funding model, examination of approaches to capping parental fees, increasing flexibility of ELC and SAC, supporting the ECCE programme, increasing SAC and supporting the establishment of a Joint Labour Committee in the ELC and SAC sector. Steady progress is being made on this wide range of commitments. </p>
<p id="para_2858" class=""> Two reform projects may be of particular interest; the development of a New Funding Model and a Workforce Development Plan. </p>
<p id="para_2859" class=""> The ongoing work of the Expert Group established to develop a new funding model is a key vehicle to ensure that increased State investment delivers for children and families to ensure greater levels of affordability, accessibility, quality and inclusion in ELC and SAC services. The terms of reference for the Group include a number of items relevant to the Programme for Government commitments, such as consideration of mechanisms to improve affordability for parents and improve pay and conditions for staff. </p>
<p id="para_2860" class=""> My Department is also developing a Workforce Development Plan to support a graduate-led ELC workforce, raise the profile of careers in ELC and SAC, establish a career framework and leadership development opportunities, and build a more gender-balanced and diverse workforce. </p>
<p id="para_2861" class=""> Work on both of these projects – the Workforce Development Plan and the Funding Model - commenced in 2019 and has continued throughout the pandemic. Significant progress has been made and extensive engagement taken place. These coming months will be a crucial time for both of these projects in generating proposals and recommendations that I can bring before Government.</p>
<p id="para_2862" class=""> Recent progress made on another Programme for Government commitment – to support the establishment of a Joint Labour Committee in the sector and the drawing up of an Employment Regulation Order – is significant for both of these projects. In December 2020, working in partnership with SIPTU and CSI/IBEC, I began a short process in which interested parties were invited to discuss how best to address issues of pay and conditions in the sector and how a Joint Labour Committee might support this. The series of meetings concluded recently and the independent Chair, Dr Kevin Duffy will shortly submit to me a report outlining the issues and possible solutions raised in the process, and make a recommendation on next steps.</p>
</div>
</div>
</div>

Childcare Services

<div class="sub-header">
<h3>Questions (206)</h3>
</div>

<div class="question" id="pq_206">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/image/thumb" alt="Neale Richmond"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/">Neale Richmond</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="social-share">
<a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/206/question/206/" data-share-text="Childcare Services" title="Share question #206 by Neale Richmond">
<i>Share</i>
</a>
</div>
<div class="content"><h4 class="from">Neale Richmond</h4><span class="question-start">Question:</span>
<p id="para_2863" class="">206. <strong>Deputy Neale Richmond</strong> asked the <strong>Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</strong> his views on whether it is appropriate that some parents classified as essential workers are sending their children to childcare against their better wishes as they will be charged fees regardless due to the parent's essential worker status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7628/21]</p>
<a class="view-answer" href="#pq-answers-206">View answer</a></div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="sub-header" id="pq-answers-206">
<h3>Written answers (Question to Children)</h3>
</div><div class="speech" id="spk_435">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/image/thumb" alt="Roderic O'Gorman"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/">Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="content"><div class="social-share"><a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/206/speech/435/" data-share-text="Childcare Services" title="Share speech #435 by Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth"><i>Share</i></a></div>

<p id="para_2864" class="">Government decided on 6 January that, in order to reduce movement in the population, the ECCE programme would not resume until 1 February. It has now been agreed that the programme will remain suspended during extended restrictions up to 5 March. Other Early Learning and Childcare and School-Age Childcare services (ELC/SAC services) can remain open on a restricted basis, to offer services to the children of essential workers and to vulnerable children only. </p>
<p id="para_2865" class=""> Essential workers are those that work in the list of essential services published on gov.ie. One parent who is an essential worker confers eligibility on the child to access a service. For the purposes of accessing early learning and childcare services, an essential worker may be working from home.</p>
<p id="para_2866" class=""> ELC and SAC services are provided by private enterprises, either privately owned or operated by community organisations. While service providers are contracted by my Department to provide services at a subsidised rate to parents, they are free to set their own policies regarding the charging of fees and contract conditions. </p>
<p id="para_2867" class=""> My Department is aware that many providers have chosen to refund, waive or credit fees for families who are not using an early learning and childcare services, regardless of eligibility to do so and I welcome this.</p>
<p id="para_2868" class=""> To further encourage and support providers (some of whom may have a higher reliance on fees), my Department has restructured the funding available to services during the February 1 to March 5 period into standard and enhanced funding for those services with certain conditions for services who opt to avail of this enhanced funding.</p>
<p id="para_2869" class=""> Where a provider has opted to avail of this enhanced funding, they are required to waive fees for children not attending, as well as retaining staff, keeping places for families and engaging with children who are not attending. This applies to both open and closed services.</p>
<p id="para_2870" class=""> Providers will be able to confirm if they are receiving enhanced funding, and consequently, their fee arrangements. They will also be able to clarify refund or credit arrangements for any pre-paid fees. </p>
<p id="para_2871" class=""> I trust you will find this information useful.</p>
</div>
</div>
</div>

Childcare Services

<div class="sub-header">
<h3>Questions (207)</h3>
</div>

<div class="question" id="pq_207">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/image/thumb" alt="Neale Richmond"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/">Neale Richmond</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="social-share">
<a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/207/question/207/" data-share-text="Childcare Services" title="Share question #207 by Neale Richmond">
<i>Share</i>
</a>
</div>
<div class="content"><h4 class="from">Neale Richmond</h4><span class="question-start">Question:</span>
<p id="para_2872" class="">207. <strong>Deputy Neale Richmond</strong> asked the <strong>Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</strong> if he has engaged with the Minister for Finance to suggest that childcare providers should be able to claim back VAT on expenses such as rent and maintenance fees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7629/21]</p>
<a class="view-answer" href="#pq-answers-207">View answer</a></div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="sub-header" id="pq-answers-207">
<h3>Written answers (Question to Children)</h3>
</div><div class="speech brief" id="spk_436">
<div class="c-avatar -debate -short">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/image/thumb" alt="Roderic O'Gorman"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/">Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="content"><div class="social-share"><a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/207/speech/436/" data-share-text="Childcare Services" title="Share speech #436 by Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth"><i>Share</i></a></div>

<p id="para_2873" class="">Officials of my Department are engaging with the Department of Finance on the issue of VAT on expenses such as rent and maintenance fees. I have not yet engage with the Minister of Finance on this issue.</p>
</div>
</div>
</div>

Childcare Services

<div class="sub-header">
<h3>Questions (208)</h3>
</div>

<div class="question" id="pq_208">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/image/thumb" alt="Neale Richmond"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Neale-Richmond.S.2016-04-25/">Neale Richmond</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="social-share">
<a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/208/question/208/" data-share-text="Childcare Services" title="Share question #208 by Neale Richmond">
<i>Share</i>
</a>
</div>
<div class="content"><h4 class="from">Neale Richmond</h4><span class="question-start">Question:</span>
<p id="para_2874" class="">208. <strong>Deputy Neale Richmond</strong> asked the <strong>Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</strong> his plans to review the sponsorship scheme in place for children to receive childcare sponsored through Tusla given that for many providers the contribution per child does not cover the provider’s running costs and they are at a loss by taking on these children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7630/21]</p>
<a class="view-answer" href="#pq-answers-208">View answer</a></div>
</div>
</div>
<div class="sub-header" id="pq-answers-208">
<h3>Written answers (Question to Children)</h3>
</div><div class="speech" id="spk_437">
<div class="c-avatar -debate">
<a class="c-avatar__img-link" href="/en/members/member/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/">
<img class="c-avatar__img" src="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/member/id/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/image/thumb" alt="Roderic O'Gorman"/>
</a>
<h4 class="c-avatar__name">
<a class="c-avatar__name-link" href="/en/members/member/Roderic-O'Gorman.D.2020-02-08/">Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth</a>
</h4>
</div>
<div class="text">
<div class="content"><div class="social-share"><a href="#" class="share-trigger" data-share-url="https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2021-02-11/208/speech/437/" data-share-text="Childcare Services" title="Share speech #437 by Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth"><i>Share</i></a></div>

<p id="para_2875" class="">The National Childcare Scheme represents the first ever statutory entitlement to financial support for childcare in Ireland, establishing a system of universal and income-related subsidies for children up to the age of 15. </p>
<p id="para_2876" class=""> A 117% increase in investment over the last number of years has led to a doubling in the number of children receiving free or subsidised early learning and care and school-age childcare. </p>
<p id="para_2877" class=""> First 5, A Whole-of-Government Strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families 2019-2028 builds on significant developments in the sector, aiming to ensure accessible, affordable, high-quality ELC for all children. </p>
<p id="para_2878" class=""> Among key strategic actions in First 5 is the development of a new funding model for ELC and SAC, which seeks to address issues of accessibility. First 5 also sets out a commitment to develop a DEIS type model will create further opportunities to narrow the gap for disadvantaged children.</p>
<p id="para_2879" class=""> As the Deputy is aware Section 14 of the Childcare Support Act 2018 make special provision for vulnerable children. This Sponsorship arrangement available within the NCS offers additional supports for families with complex needs. </p>
<p id="para_2880" class=""> The need for a sponsored referral is a determination for the relevant Sponsor Body and one they make based on the particular need of the child in line with their defined criteria as set out in the Childcare Support Act 2018. </p>
<p id="para_2881" class=""> The NCS will pay the full cost of the childcare for families referred to the Scheme by a sponsor body up to a maximum of €193.95 – €264.15 depending on the age of the child and the hours needed. Sponsored children can qualify for up to 45 hours of childcare per week.</p>
<p id="para_2882" class=""> The same rates are paid in respect of sponsorship by all of the Sponsor Bodies. The sponsor rates are 15% above the rates set for non-Sponsor NCS awards.</p>
<table>
<tr>
<td>
<p id="para_2883" class="">Sponsor </p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2884" class="">Age </p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2885" class="">0-1 year </p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2886" class="">1-3 years </p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2887" class="">3 years- school age </p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2888" class="">School age </p>
</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<p id="para_2889" class=""/>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2890" class="">Rate per hour </p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2891" class="">€5.87 </p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2892" class="">€5 </p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2893" class="">€4.54 </p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2894" class="">€4.31 </p>
</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<p id="para_2895" class=""/>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2896" class="">Max 45 hours </p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2897" class="">€264.15 </p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2898" class="">€225 </p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2899" class="">€204.30 </p>
</td>
<td>
<p id="para_2900" class="">€193.95 </p>
</td>
</tr>
</table>
<p id="para_2901" class=""> The latest available Early Years Sector Profile Fees Data indicates that the national average childcare fees charged for full day care are €195.51 for 0-1 year olds, €189.68 for 1-2 year olds, €186.01 for 2-3 year olds, €184.39 for 3-4 year olds, €183.43 for 4-5 year olds, and €169.64 for 5-6 year olds. </p>
<p id="para_2902" class=""> As indicated by the table above, the rates paid for sponsored children under the NCS are higher than the national average for fees charged by childcare providers.</p>
<p id="para_2903" class=""> Childcare providers are responsible for setting their fees. Neither the DCEDIY nor the Scheme Administrator has any role in the setting of fees by childcare service providers. Childcare providers are encouraged to discuss the rates and hours needed with the family in advance of offering a child a place. </p>
<p id="para_2904" class=""> Where a provider decides they cannot accept a sponsored child, the family will need to find a childcare provider who will accept NCS Sponsor children. Their local CCC will be able to help with this, and their contact details are available at https://myccc.ie/.</p>
<p id="para_2905" class=""> For any childcare providers with sustainability concerns, DCEDIY oversees a Case Management process through which local CCCs and Pobal work together to assess and provide support to early learning and care services experiencing difficulties. This can include help with completing and interpreting analysis of staff ratios, fee setting and cash flow, as well as more specialised advice and support appropriate to individual circumstances. I would encourage any providers concerned about the sustainability of their service to contact their local CCC.</p>
<p id="para_2906" class=""> We are considering all issues raised with us in respect of the NCS both in the context of the 12 month review and the overall effectiveness of the NCS in meeting its objectives.</p>
</div>
</div>
</div>