As part of Budget 2016, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr James Reilly announced an €85m Childcare Package . This will  include an number of key elements outlined below.  At the moment, Limerick Childcare Committee do not have any information on the specifics of these announcements.  We have been informed by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) that they will be updating Childcare Committees over the coming week.

We will issue direct updates via email to Early Years (Childcare) Services and to the general public through our website and facebook pages.

Free Pre-School
From September 2016, every child in Ireland will be able to start pre-school at age three, and to remain in pre-school until they start primary school.  Children will be able to enrol in pre-school at three different points in the year – September, January and April. In line with this expansion of free pre-school, capitation payments to providers will be fully restored to pre-2012 levels.

Currently, children are entitled to 38 weeks’ of free pre-school in the Early Childhood Care and Education Programme (ECCE). On average, children and families will benefit from 23 additional weeks of free pre-school (or about a 60% increase in free pre-school entitlement).

This measure will increase current investment in free pre-school (i.e. €172.4 million) by €47 million in 2016.

Accessible Pre-school for Children with Special Needs
During 2016, a suite of supports will be phased in to enable children with disabilities fully participate in, and reap the benefits of, quality pre-school care and education. These will include enhanced continuing professional development for childcare staff to better understand and respond to children’s’ different needs; grants for equipment, appliances and minor alterations; as well as access to therapeutic intervention.

Funding of €15m has been provided to phase supports in during 2016, with a full year cost of around €33m from 2017 onwards.

Quality Child Care
Quality matters for our children. Budget 2016 funds a number of measures to build the quality of childcare provision, including:
– An Audit of Childcare Quality: to provide a solid evidence base on which to build quality. Regular audits over time will measure the impact of investment on higher quality;
– Learner Fund: further investment in the Learner Fund will help Ireland’s childcare sector to move towards the professionalised workforce that characterises high quality childcare systems;
– Síolta Quality Assurance: independent accreditation under the Síolta programme provides an objective quality mark. Funding in Budget 2016 will support further roll-out of the quality assurance programme, so that more children benefit from high quality care.
– Enhanced Inspection: an expanded childcare inspection team to monitor compliance with new childcare regulations to be introduced shortly, and to build the education-focused inspections which DCYA began funding this year.

The funding of €3.5m provided for these quality measures in 2016 will be built upon over coming years.

Affordable Childcare
The cost of childcare can be a significant barrier for parents wanting to take up work, education or training. Budget 2016 provides two initiatives focused on increasing the affordability of childcare, to lay the foundation for providing more affordable childcare to a broader range of families.
– A Single Affordable Childcare Programme: Budget 2016 resources a dedicated Project Team to develop a single Affordable Childcare Programme to provide working families with good quality childcare at a cost they can afford. Work on the Affordable Childcare programme will begin immediately, so that it can be in place by 2017. This single programme will replace existing targeted measures Community Childcare Subvention (CCS), along with the Training & Employment Childcare (TEC) programmes, comprising After-School Childcare (ASCC), Childcare Education & Training Support (CETS), and Community Employment Childcare (CEC), providing a new simplified subsidy programme, provided through both community/not-for-profit and private childcare providers. The objective is to make childcare more affordable for more families.
– Community Childcare Subvention: Budget 2016 provides for an additional 8,000 childcare places on the Community Childcare Subvention programme, providing affordable childcare for low income families.
In line with the development of a single Affordable Childcare programme outlined above, for the first time, these 8,000 low cost childcare places will be available through private as well as community/not-for-profit childcare providers. The €16 million in funding for these new places will be targeted at areas with identified need.
These 8,000 places are in addition to a further 5,000 low cost childcare places notified to the sector last week. Minister Reilly has been able to release these places with savings achieved in 2015.
Together, these additional 13,000 low cost childcare places delivered through the Community Childcare Subvention programme will help keep Ireland’s recovery going, helping to bring its benefits to more households.
– After-School Care: A number of measures are included to support the development of more after-school childcare options.
A €3 million capital fund will support childcare providers (both community/not-for-profit and private) who need minor funding to develop after-school services using existing school and other accessible community facilities. Work will also begin on the development of a Quality Framework for After-School provision, along with a consultation with children on their views about after-school childcare.

Please refer to the DCYA website for full text of press release 

DCYA has published a FAQ document which will be updated on an ongoing basis and a Q & A on Budget 2016 Childcare Measures.  In addition, they have set up an email address for your questions and will publish answers as soon as possible. Please submit your queries to: