This letter has given rise to a number of queries from service providers. This Q & A document aims to provide answers to the most common queries.
Are ECCE Room Leaders required to have their Level 6 qualification by September 2016 or is this now being extended to December 2016?
An expansion of the ECCE programme was announced in Budget 2016. Additional capacity in the system will require additional pre-school leaders. Learner Fund 4 has been introduced to support persons who already hold the Level 5 qualification to achieve the Level 6 qualification that will be required for pre-school leaders. The Fund will be restricted to services that commit to extending capacity to meet the demands of the extended ECCE programme.
The Child Care Regulations will require all staff working directly with children in early years services to hold a minimum qualification of Level 5 or equivalent by 31st December 2016.
To avoid confusion in the sector, the requirement under the ECCE contract that all pre-school leaders must hold a Level 6 qualification will also come into effect on 31st December 2016, and not 1st September 2016 as previously advised.
In the letter services were asked to contact the local CCC with details of staff who need Level 5 and arrangements will be made to have Learner 3 made available for qualifying staff. As Learner 3 closed in December is this going to re-open and if so, when?
Learner Fund 3 will be re-opened shortly. CCCs should continue to take expressions of interest from providers in respect of staff who still do not hold the Level 5 qualification. It should be noted that staff who have signed the Grandfather Declaration will not be eligible for funding under the Learner Fund, unless they choose to withdraw the Grandfather Declaration. In such circumstances, the staff member should contact the CCC. The original signed Declarations should be returned to the CCC. If a staff member does withdraw the Grandfather Declaration, s/he will not be permitted to sign a Declaration at a later stage.
Learner Fund 4 was opened on 25th January 2016 for Level 6 (ECCE Room Leaders only) to support the expansion of the free pre-school provision announced in the Budget 2016. If a service is expanding in September 2016 and a staff member is availing of Learner Fund 4 to obtain the Level 6 qualification by August 2017 can they work as an ECCE Room Leader from September 2016?
A staff member who has not achieved the Level 6 qualification will be permitted to work as an ECCE Room Leader in September 2016, as the requirement that ECCE Room Leaders must hold a Level 6 qualification will now take effect from 31st December 2016, and not 1st September 2016 as previously advised. From 31st December 2016, staff members who have not achieved the Level 6 qualification will not be permitted to work as ECCE Room Leaders.
If a service is in receipt of higher capitation but has a pre-school assistant who has not got a Level 5 and does not intend to go back to get their award is the service in jeopardy of losing its higher capitation?
It should be noted that the Grandfather Declaration will not be accepted for the purposes of pre-school assistants working in the ECCE pre-school room where a service is in receipt of the higher capitation rate. All such pre-school assistants must hold a Level 5 qualification. This has always been, and remains, a criterion for receipt of the higher capitation rate.
The service’s higher capitation rate will not be affected if staff members other than pre-school assistants working in the ECCE room do not hold the Level 5 qualification. However, the new Child Care Regulations will require that, from 31st December 2016, any member of staff working with children in an early years service must either hold the minimum Level 5 qualification or a letter from the Minister confirming that s/he is exempt from the qualification requirement (see response to Q6 below).
Is the option to sign the Grandfather Declaration still open?
The option to sign the Grandfather Declaration is still open to staff members who do not hold a minimum Level 5 qualification and who intend to retire from the sector within a few years. Persons who sign the Declaration will, over the coming months, receive a letter from the Minister confirming that s/he is exempt from the minimum qualification requirement which will be set out in the Child Care Regulations until 1st September 2021, after which the person will no longer be eligible to work with children in an early years setting.
The following should be noted: