My Department operates the Play and Recreation Capital grant scheme, which provides funding, via Local Authorities, to support the development of new recreation facilities for children and young people, and for the refurbishment of existing play and recreation facilities and incorporation of natural play elements.
Under this scheme, Local Authorities can apply for the refurbishment of existing playgrounds or development of a new playground. This year, applications were received from all 31 Local Authorities for 52 projects and a total of €450,000 was awarded by my Department. Criteria for the scheme are developed in partnership with the Local Authority Play and Recreation Network.
One of the key criteria that is measured and scored during this process is Accessibility & Inclusivity ensuring access/inclusivity to the play equipment for all children.
This year, my Department rolled out a Summer of Play campaign, to promote the fundamental importance of play and to promote play opportunities for children and young people across the country, with this year’s theme being Playful Communities.
The campaign included a capital grant programme to enhance outdoor provision in early learning and care and school age childcare services. There were 3,689 approved applications with a total spend of €4,597,500. Most of these services provide the free, two year, preschool scheme that is accessed by 3,4 and 5 year olds before they start school.
My Department also allocated €87k to Local Authorities for National Play Day 2021 which took place in July of this year as part of The Summer Of Play campaign. Applications were received from 29 Local Authorities for this funding and numerous approved applications entailed play packs being purchased and targeted for disbursement to a number of harder to reach children, including traveller children, children with additional needs, children residing in women's refuge centres and children residing in direct provision centres.
A grant was also offered to support new and existing Parent and Toddler groups. Support included guidance on settings up Parent and Toddler Groups. Applications were approved for a total of €177,651. These initiatives are mostly universal in approach, benefiting all children, but particularly those experiencing poverty or disadvantage.