Over €183,600 Extra Funding for Childcare Services in Dún Laoghaire Rathdown

Childcare services in Dún Laoghaire Rathdown are to receive €183,653.26 in extra funding, Fine Gael Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has said.

The financial boost comes at a key moment in Ireland’s move to accessible affordable quality childcare.

Minister Mitchell O’Connor said: “I am delighted to announce that local childcare services will receive over €183,600 in extra funding.

“The money will be used to provide more than new childcare places, maintenance and building work as well as outdoor play areas and is available for immediate draw-down by providers across Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County.

“A total of 17 grants have been made to providers in Dún Laoghaire Rathdown across three strands of funding. Some of these are to individual facilities and providers, others are to larger companies with multiple facilities across the County.

“I hold the provision of quality, affordable and accessible childcare as a very highest priority, ensuring local children get the very best start in life. As a former teacher, and as a mother and grandmother, I know how important the foundations to education that are laid in a child’s early years are.

“My Government colleague, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, said €8.4m in capital funding has been allocated through the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to 683 pre-school providers nationwide; an increase in €4,4m on the amount announced for this programme in March 2017.

“This funding will benefit children, families and providers under our Early Years programmes, and will contribute to the development of an infrastructure that is ready to meet the radical new approach to subsidising childcare outlined in Budget 2017.

“Since first entering Government, Fine Gael has prioritised hard pressed working families; the people who bore the brunt of the economic recession. A major part of this has been to reduce the cost of childcare for working parents.

“We introduced the free pre-school year, and subsequently extended it to a second year. It is estimated the extended scheme provides an average saving of €4,000 per child.

“We also recently introduced paternity leave for the first time ever. Dads are now entitled to two weeks’ paid leave.
“From September an estimated 70,000 children nationwide will get extra supports. This will really benefit families in Dún Laoghaire Rathdown.

“Families will benefit in two ways. First there is a universal support for all children aged 3 and under then there are supports for those families who need it most.

“The second targeted support is based on income and also for those parents who have had to turn down jobs, training and education because they cannot afford childcare.

“I encourage parents in Dún Laoghaire Rathdown to take the time to study the increased supports which are available and prepare for the autumn, by checking out the new website www.affordablechildcare.ie or by talking to staff at your local childcare centre.

Strategic investment in childcare will improve affordability and accessibility for parents

Fine Gael TD for Dún Laoghaire, Mary Mitchell O’Connor said that today’s proposals for strategic investment in childcare would improve affordability, quality and accessibility for parents and children across Ireland.

“This major new childcare report, launched by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr James Reilly TD, proposes important changes on how best to invest in childcare services over the coming years. By putting forward costed options it provides a clear path for future investment and represents the most ambitious and detailed plan for childcare ever produced for Government.

“The report proposes three main areas where investment can be targeted:

· A period of paid parental leave, which could be shared by both parents
· An enhanced ECCE provision (currently the ‘free pre-school year’), which would be extended to the point at which primary school starts (this would ensure that from the age of 3, all children in Ireland would be entitled to free education, either in pre-school or in primary school)
· A new single subsidy scheme for pre-school and school-going children, with simplified eligibility based on income. It would cover both community and private settings, rather than the community sector alone as at present. The report says this should be designed to be progressively universal over time

“The report recommends measures to embed quality in the sector, including a quality audit and proposals for upskilling of the workforce, as well as measures to make sure there is adequate supply for future demand. It also recommends carrying out a survey to establish the scope for using school buildings for after-school care.

“I am especially delighted that my own proposal is included in the report for a once-off capital fund to support after-school services using community and private providers.”

“This report provides a sound basis for real improvements in affordability, quality and accessibility in the childcare sector, which will improve parental choice and help remove barriers to work.”

Parent & Toddler Grants 2015 Now Available

Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Childcare Committee is now inviting Parent & Toddler Groups to apply for funding under the Parent and Toddler Group Initiative.

The scheme is open to not for profit Parent & Toddler Groups. Grants will normally range from €100 to €1000. Existing Parent and Toddler Groups can apply for a maximum of €800. New start up groups may apply for maximum grant of up to €1000.

Funding will be available for:

• Toys, equipment and books

• Training for parents, e.g. paediatric first aid, committee skills, parenting courses

• Children’s activities, e.g. arts and crafts, music

• Limited funding will be available towards insurance, rent or minor refurbishment, up to a maximum

of 30% of total funding.

Funding will not be available for:

• Groups operating out of private homes

• Groups with €3000 or more closing balance in 2014

• Groups that previously received funding and did not return the Progress Report and or all receipts.

• Outings, once off events and parties

• Groups who do not submit evidence of appropriate insurance when making their application

Download Application Form and Guidelines

Closing date for applications is Friday, May 29th 2015.

Extension of the Time Frame for Public Consultation with Parents and Guardians on the Future of Childcare and Early Education

Fine Gael TD for Dún Laoghaire, Mary Mitchell O’Connor has encouraged parents and guardians in Dún Laoghaire to give their views on future investment in early years and school-age (after-school and out-of-school) care and education services.

“The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. James Reilly, T.D., is extending the time-frame for parents and guardians to contribute to the consultation process related to childcare and early education. Monday the 4th of May was scheduled to be the closing day for submissions. However Minister Reilly has now extended that deadline and new closing date/time for parents and guardians to give their views is midnight on Sunday 10th of May.

“The Inter-Departmental Group is hard at work examining issues related to childcare and early education. It’s very important that we hear the views of all relevant stakeholders especially from parents.

“As part of this public consultation process, the Minister wants to find out what is working well and learn where he can best direct investment to improve the accessibility, affordability and quality of Ireland’s early years and school-age care and education services over the coming years.

“The Inter-Departmental Group on Future Investment in Early Years and School-Age Care and Education Services will report to government with costed options for decision by the summer.

“Further details and links to theses consultation forms are available on the Department of Children and Youth Affairs website at: www.dcya.gov.ie.”

Have your say on the issue of childcare and early education

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. James Reilly, T.D., is inviting submissions from interested parties, including parents and practitioners to inform the work of his recently established Inter-Departmental Group on Future Investment in Early Years and School-Age Care and Education Services.

The Inter-Departmental Group is hard at work examining issues related to childcare and early education. It is tasked with exploring ways of ensuring that current and future investment delivers more affordable, accessible and high quality early years and school-age care and education.

To help this Group develop the strongest set of options, its work will be informed by research and evidence of best practice, as well as current policy commitments, including those set out in Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures, the National Policy Framework for Children and Young People. But it’s very important that we hear the views of all relevant stakeholders especially from parents.

Minister Reilly said “As part of this public consultation process, I want to find out what is working well and learn where I can best direct investment to improve the accessibility, affordability and quality of Ireland’s early years and school-age care and education services over the coming years”.

There are two separate consultation forms available for online completion – one for all stakeholders with an interest in the field (including policy-makers, practitioners, providers, advocates and academics) and one specifically for parents and guardians.

The closing dates for submissions from the early years sector is Friday 1st May and the closing dates for submissions from parents and guardians is Monday, 4th May.

Further details and links to theses consultation forms are available on the Department of Children and Youth Affairs website at: www.dcya.gov.ie

Time to explore real childcare options that work

With empty schools and halls all over the country we are failing to capitalise on a most valuable resource.

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire Deputy, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has today (Thursday) said that we must look at real, affordable and proven ways of providing childcare, in light of proposed changes to the lone parent payments. Deputy Mitchell O’Connor was speaking following comments made by the Social Protection Minister, Joan Burton, in the Dáil last night on the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill.

“As a former school principal, I have extensive experience identifying ways of providing childcare that is both reliable and affordable. In my former school, we addressed this issue by employing qualified carers to provide after school care at reasonable rates.

“Parents were charged a small fee per hour for their children to be taken care of after school and within the school setting. A reduced rate was charged to disadvantaged pupils or those who demonstrated a difficulty in paying.

“The money raised from this initiative was used to pay back a loan that the school had taken out for renovations, independent of the Department of Education. The money that was raised enabled the school to easily cover the loan repayments, while providing a valuable service to parents and their children. If an initiative such as this was to be adopted in schools throughout the country, considering that the loan element would be removed, minimal charges could be imposed to cover the cost of employing the supervisors.

“We have empty school halls and gymnasiums the length and breadth of the country that could be used to provide after school care by professionals. These premises are available at very little cost and failing to use them, when there is obviously a need, is failing to tap into a hugely valuable resource. The taxpayer has funded these schools so it makes that they are used to the benefit of local communities.

“Our social welfare system needs to be overhauled and refocused in favour of those who are most in need of payment. In my experience, this system of childcare provision works very well for parents, children and, indeed, the school. I believe that all workable options must be explored to ensure that the social welfare system continues to provide for our people and that our children are cared for in the most suitable and affordable setting. ”