Policy in Action 3 April 2024

Policy in Action 3 April 2024
Oireachtas Update
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Two significant Early Childhood Ireland policy proposals raised in the Dáil
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We were pleased to see that significant proposals contained in our Budget 2024 submission and in our Policy Proposal: Closures or Early Years and School Age Care were raised in the Dáil by Deputy Colm Burke (Fine Gael).

Through Parliamentary Questions (PQs), Deputy Burke asked the Minister for Children, Roderic O’Gorman TD, if he would consider two policy proposals from our Budget 2024 submission, namely, moving to a publicly-funded model of Early Years and School Age Care and to ringfence funding for a coherent five-year plan for the sector. You can read the Minister’s response here.

In relation to our Early Childhood Ireland Policy Proposal: Closures of Early Years and School Age Care Settings, Deputy Burke asked the Minister several questions regarding our proposal to establish a Stakeholder Response Team whose purpose is to manage setting closures by responding in a timely manner and to examine a range of options, focussed on the best interests of children. In response, Minister O’Gorman stated that his Department “has a range of supports in place to avert closures or assess closures of services.” Read the PQs and the response here. 

National Childcare Scheme (NCS) Sponsorship
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€90.60 is the average weekly value of the National Childcare Scheme (NCS) Sponsorship Scheme, according to Minister O’Gorman in response to a PQ asked by Deputy Kathleen Funchion (Sinn Féin).  5,139 children are availing of the NCS Sponsorship scheme. This equates to a total value of €4,309,975 for successful claims in 2024, year-to-date.

From September 2024, hourly rates for the NCS sponsor referral programme will increase as follows:

Age of child Original Referral Rate Updated Referral Rate
24-52 weeks €5.87 €5.87
one-two years €5.00 €5.30
three+ years €4.54 €5.30
School Age €4.31 €5.30
National Childcare Scheme (NCS) weekly hours
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Approximately 45 per cent of children availing of the NCS are School Aged Children. The figures were released in a PQ to Kathleen Funchion TD (Sinn Féin) who asked Minister O’Gorman for the number of children who are availing of NCS and their weekly hours.

The table below additionally shows the number of children benefitting from an NCS subsidy so far this year by weekly hours claimed band.

Weekly hours claimed band Number of unique children
5 hrs or less 18,702
5-10 hrs 30,012
10-15 hrs 26,968
15-20 hrs 30,890
20-25 hrs 21,210
25-30 hrs 26,067
30-35 hrs 9,197
35-40 hrs 14,705
40-45 hrs 36,161
Grand Total 155,153
Adult-to-Child ratios
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“There are no plans at present to revise the minimum adult-to-child ratio for ELC or SAC services,” said Minister O’Gorman, who was asked by Deputy Matt Carthy (Sinn Féin) “if he proposes measures to ease the pressure on childcare providers resulting from the carer-child ratio laid down by his Department.”.

Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY) updates
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Up to 40 per cent of parents with children under 15 are unaware of the (NCS) Scheme, according to the DCEDIY.

Families who would like to know if their Early Years and School Age Care provider is registered for the NCS can access the Childcare Search Service on the NCS website, at www.NCS.gov.ie , where they can also see the providers’ fees list. Families will also find information on how to apply for the NCS.

Get in touch
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If you have any questions or would like to know more about Early Childhood Ireland’s policy work, please do not hesitate to contact us at policy@earlychildhoodireland.ie

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