The 2021 capital funding programme is focused on ensuring fire safety in early learning and care childcare services around the country. The 2021 Capital grant funds were voted are part of the 2021 budget and can only be used for expenditure incurred in 2021. It is not possible to use these funds to compensate early learning and childcare providers for works they undertook in 2019.
I appreciate that many early learning and childcare services already hold a fire safety certificate for their childcare premises. However I am informed by Tulsa, the independent regulator of the childcare sector, that over 1, 000 services have yet to submit a fire safety certificate to them as part of the registration process. I understand that the remedial works may be needed by these providers to qualify for a Fire Safety Certificate.
Given the absolute priority to keep children safe in their early learning and childcare services, I have made the entire 2021 early years capital budget of €10.5 million available to assist services complete any outstanding fire safety works required to obtain a fire safety certificate.
If any of the €10.5 million available for the 2021 Fire Safety Grant is not required for this purpose, my Department will distribute the balance by way of a second round of grants, which will focus on outdoor play. Further detail on this will be announced later in the year. Services which have not received a fire safety grant will be prioritised in any second capital grant programme.