My Department has provided funding over the past four years to support the upgrading and refurbishment of early years services under the Early Years Capital Programme as follows:-
- 2012 - capital funding of €6 million was provided to fund a maintenance programme for services (i.e. to address remedial, maintenance and renovation work and to purchase equipment). This funding, which provided grants up to a maximum of €50,000, was available to private and community/ not-for-profit services.
- 2013 - capital funding of €2.75 million was provided to support the on-going improvement of services. Both private and community/not-for-profit services participating in one of the national childcare programmes implemented by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs were eligible to apply for a grant under the Programme.
- 2014 - capital funding of €2.5 million for the maintenance and upgrade of community/not-for-profit services. The objective of this funding was to ensure that previously-funded community/not-for-profit services remained fit-for-purpose thus protecting State investment.
- 2015 - capital funding of €7 million was provided. Of this funding, €5 million was made available for grants specifically for community/not-for-profit services. This funding provided for the allocation of capital grant aid in the region of €500,000 for significant upgrades of services such as major refurbishment or relocation to new premises. Grants of up to €50,000 for essential maintenance, or works undertaken to improve the energy performance of community/not-for-profit services were also provided. The remaining €2 million was made available for both private and community/not-for-profit services to access grants of up to €500 for quality improvement measures, specifically in the area of upgrading IT facilities.
Funding will also be provided in 2016 as part of the Early Years Capital Programme. I am currently considering how best this funding can be targeted.
In addition, a number of measures were introduced in Budget 2016, including a €3 million capital fund, which will be provided to enable both community/not-for-profit and private providers to develop after-school childcare services using existing school and other accessible community facilities.