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Increased ECCE capitation and supports for children with additional needs are key priority areas

April 20, 2015

Minister for Children tells Early Childhood Ireland conference delegates that increased ECCE capitation and supports for children with additional needs, along with less red tape in inspections are all key priority areas

Meanwhile, Early Childhood Ireland welcomes reports today that €100 million will be added to the childcare budget in 2016

The Minister for Children & Youth Affairs, James Reilly told delegates at the Early Childhood Ireland conference this weekend that increased capitation for the ECCE (partially funded preschool) scheme must be forthcoming in a sector where sustainability is the big issue and our track record is “appalling”.

Meanwhile, Early Childhood Ireland has welcomed reports today that €100 million is to be added to the childcare budget in 2016 which has the backing of Pierre Moscovici, the European commissioner for economic and financial affairs.

Welcoming this news Teresa Heeney, CEO of Early Childhood Ireland said today, “We look forward to discussing the spending priorities with Minister Reilly and his department over the coming weeks.  The key message from our conference is that we must significantly increase Ireland’s 0.2% in GDP investment in childcare towards the average 0.7% GDP investment of our European neighbours that we so emulate, over the next 5 years and starting in the next budget.  The Minister is right, our track record in investment is appalling and we’ve got to fix that.”

On the question of a second free preschool year being introduced, Teresa Heeney warned that:

“Our members will not co-operate with any government plan for a second year until the first is good and properly supported for children, families and the early childhood sector. This sector must be respected and consulted like the GP’s were about Free GP care. There is no way we can introduce a second year to the ECCE scheme, until the contract for the first year is fit for purpose and that means increased capitation, and supports to meet  the needs of children with additional needs within the ECCE scheme, rather than allowing our members to subsidize the shortfall in funding which is reckless trading.

“Direct investment is what’s required, rather than tax breaks or cash payments to parents which would have no impact on the quality of early childhood care and education.  Furthermore, the current situation of forcing early educators to sign on the dole over the summer months is just so demoralising and must be addressed if we are to stop the haemorrhaging of quality people from the sector.”

As a short term measure to address the serious issue of sustainability, Early Childhood Ireland has called on Minister Reilly to restore the €2 cut made to the ECCE scheme in 2011 and that this should be announced as part of the spring statement.

At the 2 day conference in Croke Park, which was attended by 700 early childhood care and educators and entitled “Play on the Brain”, Minister Reilly also reinforced his commitment to “supporting children with additional needs in the early years where early intervention matters most.”  This commitment was reiterated by Fergal Lynch, Secretary General of the Department of Children & Youth Affairs who also attended the conference and said that the three Departments involved are looking at solutions regarding additional  needs as a priority.

Meanwhile, every speaker at the conference, including the Minister, agreed that more streamlining and better communications between TUSLA, the Department of Education & Science and Pobal with respect to inspections are so important, with Harold Hislop of the Department of Education and Science making the point that “increased paperwork does not increase quality.”

The keynote address yesterday was delivered by Maria Aarts, Director of Marte Meo International who focussed on play and the importance child led interaction.


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