Each year the Department reviews the capital programmes as a whole and determines the priorities for Early Learning and Care and School Age Capital grants.
The capital strands have been made available to achieve the strategic priorities for 2019 as determined by the Department, having regard to the funding available, developed using analysis of the current state of the childcare sector, learnings from previous capital programmes and feedback and input from stakeholders, including childcare providers and Pobal.
The capital programmes have been significantly oversubscribed in recent years, with demand for funding far outstripping the available budget. Unfortunately, this means that many services that submit high quality applications ultimately do not receive an offer of funding because the budget is not there to facilitate this.
As a means to address this, the 2019 Early Learning and Care and School Age Capital applicant guidelines, released on 31 January 2019, introduced a rule that clearly states that early learning and care services who have received funding under the equivalent strand of EY Capital (i.e. Creation of New EY Places) between 2016 and 2018, are not eligible to apply under Strand A (Creation of new places for 0-3 year olds) in 2019.
One of the benefits of the introduction of this rule is that capital funding can be distributed around as wide a range of services as possible over a four-year cycle.
In the interest of fairness and equity, this rule must apply to all services without exception.
It is noted that the service in question received a capital grant under Strand 1 in 2016. This funding was made available to providers in order to facilitate an increase in childcare places from September 2016. In the case of the service in question, this funding resulted in an increase of 11 ECCE places, as stated by them in their application at the time.
However, there is no rule precluding this service from applying under Strands B and C in 2019. Despite their disappointment at their ineligibility for Strand A this year, I hope they are satisfied that the two other streams of funding under the 2019 Capital schemes are still open to them.