Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 30 Jun 1999

Vol. 507 No. 3

Written Answers. - Early Childhood Education.

Gay Mitchell


174 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if funds will be made available to a group (details supplied) involved in early childhood education; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16924/99]

My Department is responsible for an equal opportunities child care programme. The programme is mainly designed to support local communities who are trying to facilitate women and men who have child care responsibilities while accessing training, education and employment. It is targeted primarily at community based projects in disadvantaged areas.

The equal opportunities child care programme is part-funded by the EU and has a budget of approximately £6 million, over £4 million Exchequer and £2 million EU funding, for she period 1998-1999. The Programme included capital funding for 106 projects to develop new childcare facilities or to upgrade existing facilities. The allocation of these funds was related to the overall objectives of the programme and made on foot of applications received by June 1998 in response to a national media advertising campaign.

Additional EU funds were provided for the programme in April and June of this year out of which a total of approximately £800,000 will be allocated to supporting training and networking among the national voluntary child care organisations whose membership base comprises service providers. As these funds are from the European Social Fund, they can only be used for training and development purposes and cannot be used for capital initiatives. My Department invited proposals from the national voluntary child care organisations, including the IPPA, relating to the first tranche of this European Social Fund allocation and set a closing date of 14 June for receipt of applications. The applications are currently being assessed and I will make an announcement on the allocation of these funds in due course. Arrangements are in hand in respect of seeking applications for the remaining funding.

Applications by my Department for assistance with capital projects can only be considered in the context of the allocations for childcare in the budget for 2000.

With regard to future support for child care, the Government established an interdepartmental committee on child care to evaluate, cost and prioritise the child care proposals in the reports of the expert working group on child care, the Commission on the Family and the National Forum for Early Childhood Education in addition to the Government's childcare proposals in An Action Programme for the Millennium. The interdepartmental committee is due to report by August.