Policy in Action 5 March 2024

Policy in Action 5 March 2024
Oireachtas Update

Early Childhood Ireland monitors the relevant work of the Oireachtas each week. Part of this work is to review Oireachtas debates and Parliamentary Questions (PQs) that are relevant to the Early Years (EY) and School Age Care (SAC) sector. Recently, these have included:

  • Early Childhood Ireland Policy Proposal: Single Agency for Early Years and School Age Care: Deputy Niamh Smyth (Fianna Fáil) asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman TD, if he would review Early Childhood Ireland’s recent policy proposal A Single Agency for Early Years and School Age Care. You can read the Minister’s response here.
  • Chart of Accounts: Deputy Kathleen Funchion (Sinn Féin) asked the Minister for an update on the Chart of Accounts for providers who have a Core Funding Contract. In response, Minister O’Gorman wrote that the financial reporting requirement is for an Income and Expenditure report based on a significantly reduced set of Core Funding Chart of Accounts nominal codes. He added that this Income and Expenditure Report will need to be submitted onto an online reporting portal by either a qualified accountant from a registered practice or a registered professional body, by Friday, 22 March 2024.
  • National Childcare Scheme (NCS) and Core Funding: “An early learning and childcare service does not need to opt in to Core Funding in order to offer the National Childcare Scheme (NCS). Services contract separately on an annual basis to participate in the NCS,” said the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman in response to Deputy Jennifer Whitmore’s (Social Democrats) question regarding parents who wish to avail of the NCS but whose EY and SAC setting does not participate in Core Funding.
  • Funding for purpose-built EY and SAC settings: “While there is no funding available at present for the construction of new purpose-built early learning and childcare facilities in 2024, my Department will keep the issue under review,” according to Minister O’Gorman. The Minister was responding to a parliamentary question from Kathleen Funchion (Sinn Féin) who asked about the costs associated with building a new community childcare facility, including associated costs and if any new facilities are being planned.
Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Updates
  • Childminding Regulations: The public consultation on the draft childminding regulations has been opened. Closing date for submissions is Thursday, 2 May 2024. The Department has also published an Easy Read Summary.
  • Building Blocks (Expansion) Grant: Applications for the Building Blocks Expansion Grant Scheme have opened. The closing date for applications is Wednesday, 3 April 2024.

To apply, please visit the Early Years Hive Portal.

The primary focus of the Expansion Grant Scheme is to increase capacity in the one–three-year-old (pre-ECCE) age range for full day or part-time care.

  • The Expansion Grant will be open to Core Funding Partner services.
  • Private providers can apply for funding between €25,000 (minimum) and €50,000 (maximum)

Private providers must contribute 50 per cent of the total project costs applied for.

  • Community providers can apply for funding between €50,000 (minimum) and €100,000 (maximum). Match funding will not be required of community-led services.
  • This scheme will apply a maximum fee threshold for Early Learning and Childcare places delivered through this funding. Funding for capacity expansion will only be made available to services charging fees below a maximum fee threshold.
Work With Our Members
  • Core Funding Financials: Early Childhood Ireland has recently been engaged in meetings with DCEDIY regarding the core funding financial requirements for Year 2. DCEDIY has listened to suggestions by the organisation and has agreed steps to pare back the process and reduce financial ask from providers. Reduced requirements were communicated before Christmas. The organisation has stressed prompt communications to settings, which will be issued imminently, with information sessions to be hosted by the City/County Childcare Committees.
  • National Childcare Scheme (NCS) Sponsorship: Recent queries have been raised by Early Childhood Ireland members regarding NCS sponsorship. The Policy, Advocacy and Campaigning team is currently engaging with some of members to examine experiences with sponsorship.
  • Tusla Early Years Inspectorate: Representatives from Early Childhood Ireland sit on a number of forums with the Tusla Early Years Inspectorate. The Inspectorate has advised that Childminding Regulations are forthcoming in 2024, with School Age Care (SAC) regulations following in 2025. Information on SAC regulations will issue in due course, but in the meantime you can find out more on the draft Childminding Regulations and the ongoing consultation on the DCEDIY website.
Get in touch

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 [email protected]

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