Thursday, 26 September 2019

Ceisteanna (182)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

182. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of community crèche spaces available in the Dundrum and Ballinteer areas; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39193/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Each year Pobal conducts research on behalf of my Department to examine a number of factors related to early learning and care and school age childcare services services in Ireland, including the monitoring of capacity. As you are aware, such services are provided in Ireland by private services and not by my Department or the State.

The Early Years Sector Profile report, which was published in November 2018 and relates to the 2017/2018 programme year, provides my Department with valuable information. It indicates that existing childcare provision nationally broadly meets current needs in terms of capacity, whilst recognising that small pockets of under supply exist within this.

The following table shows the capacity (both community and private) for the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown area.

Pobal do not record this data by individual area/district, both areas referred to come under the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Childcare Committee area of responsibility. In addition Pobal do not distinguish between community and private providers when recording capacity.

County

Capacity – all age ranges (enrolled + vacancies)

Vacant places

Dublin – Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown

6,581

224

There is a total of 188 childcare services in the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown area, of which 23 (12%) are community services. Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Childcare Committee may be able to provide you or any parent with more assistance if required.

As regards capacity more generally, the 117% increase in investment over the last four years has allowed us double the number of children receiving free or subsidised early learning and care and school age childcare. it has also supported the sector to double the number of places available. I secured €8.86m in capital funding for childcare in 2019 with the ultimate aim of benefiting parents and children through improving our childcare infrastructure and capacity. A particular focus is on expanding service provision for children under three years of age.

Under the National Planning Framework and the National Development Plan published in 2018, I ensured that Childcare was identified as one of our nation's strategic priorities. I am delighted that €250 million in additional funding has been committed for the expansion of high quality, early learning and care and school age childcare over the duration of the Plan.

Finally, the draft Childminding Action Plan published recently, and currently out for consultation, sets out Government's draft proposal to further improve access to high quality and affordable childcare through childminders. Childminding is a much valued option for many parents In Ireland and the Plan seeks to support that sector to become registered and hence enable families and themselves to access greater supports, financial and otherwise.