Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Ceisteanna (564)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

564. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if it is a mandatory requirement for childcare providers to advertise their rates in a fully transparent manner; if the practice of holding monetary deposits in exchange for places has been drawn to her attention; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24916/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Services who are in contract to provide any of my Department's childcare funding programmes must have their fees list, for all approved funding programmes, clearly displayed in an area accessible to parents/guardians. Pobal compliance inspectors who carry out unannounced inspections on service providers ensure that the approved fees list is clearly displayed and that it indicates the full fees and the reduced fees of the service based on the relevant approved programme funding i.e. the full fee less the funding approved.

The booking deposit rule for each DCYA childcare funding programme is outlined below.

Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE):

As per the rules for DCYA childcare funding programmes 2018/19 document, in relation to the ECCE programme, the rule on deposits is as follows:

"A childcare provider may charge a refundable booking deposit to hold a place in the ECCE provision for a child. The maximum deposit a provider may charge is equivalent to four weeks’ ECCE payment. The totality of the ECCE deposit must be returned to the parent/guardian once the child’s registration is a programme is outlined below.

Approved on PIP" ( this means registered with Pobal).

The purpose of this clause is to prevent an over payment of exchequer funding, because if a child leaves a service provider unexpectedly, my Department will continue to pay their ECCE funding for 4 weeks.

Training and Employment Childcare (TEC):

As per the rules for DCYA childcare funding programmes 18/19 document, in relation to the TEC programmes, the rule on deposits is as follows:

"A childcare provider may charge new parents/guardians a refundable booking deposit to hold a place for a child. The maximum deposit a provider may charge is equivalent to two weeks total payment. The full amount of the DCYA subvention held on deposit must be refunded to the parent/guardian once the child’s registration is approved. When and how the balance of the deposit is returned to the parent/guardian is a matter for the provider."

For example, where a service’s weekly fee is €200 and the subvention due is €145, the service may charge a maximum two week deposit of €400. Once the registration has been approved the service must refund the amount of €290 (145 x 2) to the parent/guardian.

Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) and the Community Childcare Subvention Plus (CCSP):

As per the rules for DCYA childcare funding programmes 2018/19 document, in relation to the CCS and CCSP programmes, the rule on deposits is as follows:

"A childcare provider may charge new parents/guardians a refundable booking deposit to hold a place for a child. The maximum deposit a provider may charge is equivalent to two weeks total payment. The full amount of the DCYA subvention held on deposit must be refunded to the parent/guardian once the child’s registration is approved. When and how the balance of the deposit is returned to the parent/guardian is a matter for the provider."

As in the example above, this means that where a service’s weekly fee is €200 and the subvention due is €145, the service may charge a maximum two week deposit of €400. Once the registration has been approved the service must refund the amount of €290 to the parent/guardian.

The Universal Subsidy (CCSU) is administered under the CCSP programme and is governed by the same rules, therefore the same rules apply for deposits.

Community Childcare Subvention Resettlement (CCSR):

The CCSR programme provides dedicated childcare funding to Programme Refugees to support them in their resettlement and integration into Irish society. This cohort of families do not pay a deposit for childcare places. The rules for DCYA childcare funding programmes 2018/19 states:

'Childcare providers must not request booking deposits from parents/guardians to hold a place'.

Community Childcare Subvention Resettlement (Transitional) (CCSR(T)):

The CCSR(T) programme provides access to free childcare for children of families experiencing homelessness. This cohort of families do not pay a deposit for childcare places. The rules for DCYA childcare funding programmes 2018/19 states:

'Childcare providers must not request any booking deposits from parents/guardians to hold a place'.

It must be noted that my Department is not the owner/employer of Early Years services; they are private businesses and their policy on deposits relating to levels of service not funded by my Department, including full time care, are a matter between the service provider and the individual parent.