€6.5m investment for major childcare expansion


60,000 extra children to avail of free services starting in September

Statement by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, TD

Friday 8th July, 2016

Dr Katherine Zappone, TD has today announced that more than €6.5m in capital funding has been allocated through the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to 1,006 pre-school providers nationwide. This represents an increase of over 2.5m on the amount of €4m announced for this programme in February 2016. Grants of up to €10,000 per provider are being provided. 

Minister Zappone said: “The extension of the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) pre-school scheme so that every child will be able to access free pre-school from the age of three until they start school (entering pre-school in the September, January or April after they turn three) is a welcome development for children, parents and Early Years providers.  It will see more than 60,000 additional children enrolled in the programme by April 2017.  Children will now benefit from an average of 61 weeks of the scheme, up from 38 weeks.   In order to ensure that there is sufficient capacity in the sector to provide for these children, this is one of a number of measures my Department has developed to assist services to expand.” 

“I am delighted that so many high quality applications were received under this scheme, and that the majority of applications can now be approved for drawdown of funding. I look forward to working with the sector to deliver further improvements in childcare quality, availability and affordability over the coming year” 

The funding being made available today is specifically for pre-school providers – both community/not-for-profit and private providers – who want to expand their services to cater for more children from September 2016. 

The grants that are being awarded may be used to cover the following: 

·        Build / fit out / refurbishment of an additional room /extension; 
·        Minor building alterations; and 
·        Costs for additional play equipment (to a maximum of €5,000) to facilitate an increase in childcare places. 

This Department of Children and Youth Affairs, with the assistance of Pobal, invited applications from all services contracted to deliver its various childcare programmes. All submitted applications were considered in order to find those that most closely and completely met the criteria and objectives of the programme.

Minister Zappone added “I would like to thank all services who sought funding under this programme. The expansion of ECCE is another milestone for early years care and education in this country. The City and County Childcare Committees from across the country have been assisting my department to ensure that supply meets demand and I want to commend providers for meeting the challenge and expanding their services where this was possible.“ 

Early Years Capital 2016 - Pobal List of Providers