Sessional services usually refer to a preschool service offering a planned programme to preschool children for no more than 3.5 hours per day for between 38 to 50 weeks per year. A full day care service refers to structured day care for children from babies up to age 13 years, for more than 5 hours per day and may include a sessional preschool service, breakfast club, and or afterschool club. Some Full Day Care Services open from 7am and remain open until 7pm, depending on the needs of parents in a particular area.
My Department currently has no plans to create a pilot partnership between full day care and sessional only services.
I am aware that some rural services can face distinct challenges to their ability to operate sustainably. To this end, my Department oversees an integrated Case Management system operated by Pobal. This Case Management service provides non-financial assistance or support in the first instance. Financial supports are also available for community services facing certain challenges which may also be accessed through Case Management following a financial assessment.
In addition, my Department is currently undertaking a sustainability review which is examining the financial situation of a range of community childcare services in some of the most disadvantaged areas in Ireland. This review is also taking account of the future introduction of the National Childcare Scheme. The review is expected to be completed shortly and will serve to inform any further sustainability measures or supports which may be required.