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Press Release: Post Budget Survey Results Summary

November 30, 2015

Download the full Survey Summary data here: Post Budget Survey Results Summary

Survey of preschools and creches nationwide highlights key challenges in implementing expanded ECCE (free preschool) scheme, as Early Childhood Ireland recommends key areas for further investment to make this scheme deliverable.

“There are significant problems with the implementation of the expanded ECCE (free preschool) scheme, as announced in the recent budget, and parents must not assume that their local preferred preschool can accommodate their child for 2 years. While the expansion of the scheme is certainly good for parents and children, it must also work for the operators of preschools.”  This is according to Teresa Heeney CEO of Early Childhood Ireland, based on the findings of this post budget survey, which was completed by 391 crèche and preschool managers from around the country. 

The main findings of the Early Childhood Ireland survey highlight that:

  • 62% of respondents said that, at the moment, they do not plan to expand their service, as a result of the changes to the ECCE scheme, as announced in the budget, while 27% said that they were not sure yet.
  • In terms of the challenges to expanding their service to meet the scheme, the big issues are that the capitation for the scheme is too low and not having enough space or funding to expand.  Other issues include difficulty with getting planning permission, as well as a current lack of demand in some local areas.
  • When asked about the new proposed system of rolling enrolment and how that would affect their service, the majority of respondents said that they would not be able to guarantee that they would have a place for a child starting in January or in April; that their admission policy would have to be reviewed and that places could only be secured if payment begins in September.  Difficulties in getting staff was also cited as a major challenge.
  • In response to the question of whether the changes in the budget were good for their setting, 23% said No while 49% said they were not sure yet.

 

Teresa Heeney, CEO of Early Childhood Ireland added that, “The Department of Children & Youth Affairs is depending on the early childhood care and education sector to deliver this reform, and as such there must be a partnership approach which starts by listening to and  addressing the key concerns.  This survey crystallises those challenges and the key areas for additional investment to make this expanded ECCE scheme deliverable.  While there certainly is capacity in the system, we can’t assume that these services are based in the geographic areas with most demand.  The economics of early education means that additional places in preschools have to be properly planned and prepared for by way of additional rooms and additional staff. Therefore, increased capitation, access to capital grants and a proper mapping exercise for expansion locally and nationally which ensures long term viability and sustainability are essential for this reform to be delivered.”

In parallel with the survey results, Early Childhood Ireland has recommended a problem-solving approach to the Department of Children & Youth Affairs and wider Government that would address the key issues already identified by their members post budget, including:

 

  1. Restoring the Capitation payment to the previous level from earlier date of January 1st 2016.  
  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. 
  7. Put in place an ‘Expansion Fund’ to support services to expand, where supports are provided for capital costs incurred related to expansion.  
  8. Agree to put in place a Framework for Viable Provision, in tandem with a mapping exercise to mitigate the risk for operators of future displacement.

Ends.

Download the full Survey Summary data here: Post Budget Survey Results Summary

 

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