The latest news and information

Press Release: RTÉ Investigates Update

Learner Fund Extension for ECCE

December 10, 2015

Reaction from Early Childhood Ireland to €1.5 million ‘Learner Fund 4’ as announced by Minister for Children James Reilly today

We welcome this additional funding stream for training, as announced by the Minister for Children James Reilly, and we acknowledge that we are moving towards a funding model to fuel capacity in the early childhood care and education sector and at the same time to promote quality.  We recognise that Minister Reilly has positioned this latest investment as the first of a series of measures to support expansion of the free pre-school programme, and we repeat our call for real and sustained investment in this sector.

However, we must also look to the reality of the situation today and the fact that there are real and significant problems with the implementation of the expanded ECCE (free preschool) scheme, as announced in the budget.  This additional €1.5million ‘Learner Fund 4’ announced today is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of moving this sector to where it needs to be in terms of capacity, sustainability, quality and affordability for parents.  But it is another important step and we welcome that.

As part of the series of measures yet to come, we would urge Minister Reilly to consider: 

  1. Restoring the Capitation payment to the previous level from an earlier date in 2016, preferably the 1st Our members are feeling the pinch in terms of investing in a growth model to deliver on this second free ECCE year right now.  
  2. Introducing a management fee to facilitate settings in delivering Government programmes. 
  3. Exempting childcare settings from Commercial Rates. 
  4. Addressing the cost for operators in meeting holiday payments. 
  5. Fast-tracking of planning permission applications. 
  6. Engaging with training providers to ensure that sufficient staff are recruited and trained and today’s announcement is another move in the right direction, but we have a long way to go to make this sector graduate led. 
  7. Putting in place an ‘Expansion Fund’ to support services to expand, where supports are provided for capital costs incurred related to expansion.  
  8. Implementing a Framework for Viable Provision, in tandem with a mapping exercise to mitigate the risk for operators of future displacement.

This last recommendation in relation to a Framework for Viable Provision along with a mapping exercise is absolutely urgent and essential in terms of building capacity in the sector where there are real gaps.  Increased capacity in this sector is absolutely dependent on better local and national planning for preschool places and the right level of investment to support our members.

Share share share share
Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine