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Parliamentary Questions Summary: July 2019

August 9, 2019

In July, a number of parliamentary questions (PQs) were submitted by Deputy Anne Rabbitte TD on behalf of Early Childhood Ireland. Each of these focused on an issue or issues affecting our members.

One PQ sought information on the arrangements in place for sponsorship agreements under the National Childcare Scheme. A sponsorship agreement will allow a statutory body – the ‘sponsor body’ – to refer a child to the Scheme for support. This is intended to support families for whom childcare is required on child welfare or child protection grounds, or for whom childcare is a necessary element of family support (for more information, please see this information for providers on the National Childcare Scheme website).

In her response to this PQ, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Dr. Katherine Zappone TD clarified that ‘the agreement between the Minister and each sponsor body will specify details under which children will be referred.’ She wrote that training will be provided for frontline staff and that this training will commence in the coming months.

A further PQ related to ECCE-only services potentially becoming liable for commercial rates following the introduction of the National Childcare Scheme. Minister Zappone, responding, indicated that her Department was aware of this issue. She indicated that she had written to the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government and requested that he review the matter. However, her Department was informed that, under existing law, it is not possible to grant exemptions for private providers.

Deputy Rabbitte has since introduced a Bill that seeks to make all early years services exempt from commercial rates. Early Childhood Ireland welcomes this Bill, and you can read our full response and analysis here

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