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Update: Pobal Payment Issues

November 27, 2019

In the 12 November edition of Early Times Weekly, we outlined our work in relation to the Service Level Agreement (SLA) between the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and Pobal. This response to a Dáil question submitted by Mick Wallace sets out the scope and nature of the different programmes that Pobal administers on behalf of various government Departments. It also outlines the amount of funding received by Pobal in 2016 for the administration of these schemes.

The nature of the SLA between DCYA and Pobal, and its impact on our members, has become an area of interest to Early Childhood Ireland. While we are keenly aware of how low investment in early years settings in Ireland is by comparison to other European countries, it is undeniable that investment has increased over the last number of years. This is to be welcomed. We are, however, increasingly alarmed by the unsatisfactory administration of available funding and the severely negative impact this has on our members. Delays in allocating approved funding for Higher Capitation, the refusal to backdate AIM payments, and so on heap pressure on an already overstretched and overburdened workforce. It is the view of Early Childhood Ireland that in the long term, we needs a more  viable way of funding our sector. Our proposal for a single Early Years and School-age Childcare Agency would see funding and financial compliance come under one roof in the long term, but this is of little immediate benefit to our members.

We are currently engaging with Oireachtas members to get information from the DCYA and the Department of Community and Rural Affairs on the scope and nature of the SLA with Pobal. We are particularly interested to see if the SLA allows for Pobal to be held accountable for the unacceptable delays providers continue to face, and the evaluation process that Pobal faces in respect of service delivery. We are also seeking information on the number of staff assigned to administer each scheme and if Pobal has requested additional resources to assist in dealing with payment delays.

We will be sure to share this information with you when we have it.

The early years sector faces continuous calls to professionalise. It is only right that government agencies charged with delivering and administering funds to our members are held to the same high standards that they themselves enforce.

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