• ‘Partner Service Funding Agreement’ for the new €221 million Core Funding for early learning and childcare providers available for signing from today.
• Early learning and childcare services commit to expansion ahead of Core Funding introduction, with record increase in applications for a ‘change in circumstance’ to Tusla
• Number of early learning and childcare service closures notified to Tusla down by 16% relative to pre-Covid-19.
The Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman, will today (17 August 2022) welcome the first ‘Partner Services’ signing up to Core Funding, as new data revealed a record increase in early learning and childcare providers signalling their intention to expand their services.
Core Funding, introduced in last year’s Budget, will see €221 million invested by the State into early learning and childcare.
Services that sign up for Core Funding will become Partner Services, working in partnership with the State to deliver early learning and childcare for the public good – focused on quality and affordability for children and their families, sustainability and stability for providers and their staff, and accountability, transparency and value for money for the State.
The Partner Service Funding Agreement for Core Funding is available for signing from today.
Preliminary data gathered by the Department suggests a strong response from providers to Core Funding:
• A 31% increase in ‘change in circumstances’ applications from Early Learning and Care services and 261% increase in increase in change in circumstances for School-Age Childcare services compared to 2021 driven by services seeking to expand their service.
• A 16% reduction in the number of ELC services closure notifications to Tusla for the same time period in 2022 compared to 2019.
• 90% of services have completed the Annual Early Years Sector Profile Survey to date, which is a pre-requisite for Core Funding.
• 95% of eligible services have signed up to the Transition Fund, introduced in April 2022 to bridge the gap between the end of Covid-19 supports for the sector and the start of Core Funding, a condition of which is a fee freeze.
Core Funding will come into effect and is contingent upon Employment Regulation Orders being in effect, setting minimum rates of pay for all roles across the sector as defined in the Early Years’ Service Joint Labour Committee Establishment Order.
Minister O’Gorman said:
“We are on the cusp of transformative change for the early learning and childcare sector. Delivering high-quality, affordable early learning and childcare is one of my top priorities as Minister. Core Funding is central to this, and will involve a fundamental shift in the relationship between the State and providers.
“My vision is for early learning and childcare to be delivered as a public good to the benefit children, their families and all of society. I am delighted to see Partner Services join together with us to realise this vision.”
“I want to see as many providers as possible participating in this partnership to deliver early learning and childcare for the public good, by coming in to contract for Core Funding, and becoming Partner Services. A partnership requires commitment, openness, and good faith on both sides. I intend to uphold the partnership by continuing to increase investment and supporting Partner Services in delivering high quality early learning and childcare. Working together we can achieve great things for the sector and Core Funding will bring many benefits for children, parents, staff and providers.”
Core Funding constitutes a very different approach to funding the early learning and childcare sector. Extensive efforts are being made to assist services with the application process. Services requiring assistance should contact their local City/County Childcare Committee or Pobal via the Early Years Provider Centre (EYPC).
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