Assisting childcare providers in extending their existing childcare services, or establishing new childcare services, have always been key areas of focus of my Department's capital programmes. Capital funding is aimed at increasing the capacity of services, creating new services and maintaining and improving existing services.
Each year my 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 my 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.
In 2019, I secured €6.106m in funding for the Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare Capital programmes.
I am committed to ensuring childcare is affordable, accessible and of a high quality. This year the focus of the funding for the 2019 Early Learning and Care and School Age Capital programme on the expansion of early learning and care places for 0-3 year olds and school age childcare places where this is most needed.
This funding will be delivered in three strands, as follows:
- €4.231m has been allocated to Strand A , which will offer grants of up to €50,000 in value to early learning and care providers for the creation of new 0-3 places where demand for these is clearly evidenced.
- €0.875m has been allocated to Strand B , which will offer individual grants of up to €15,000 in value to aid community/not-for-profit early learning and care services in addressing fire safety issues that have been highlighted in inspection reports by Tusla, the HSE or Local Authorities.
- €1m has been allocated to Strand C , which will offer individual grants of up to €20,000 in value to school age childcare providers for the creation of new school age places where demand for these is clearly evidenced.
Applications for funding was available to providers nationwide in a competitive process with the application window open from Monday 25 February. The application window for the Capital programmes closed on 27 March 2019. Pobal are currently in the process of appraising all applications received.
I would like to assure you that all applications for funding will be appraised in a fair, thorough and impartial manner. Decisions are due to be delivered to applicants in June 2019 in the hope that capital works can begin over the summer months.
As the process is ongoing I am not in a position to provide an update as to the status of any individual application for funding at this point. The results of the appraisal process, including the final decisions, will be communicated to providers directly in June 2019.