Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has today welcomed the announcement which will see reform of the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Higher Capitation model to support capacity building and quality development across pre-schools.
The Meath East TD today said “I warmly welcome the reform of the pre-school ECCE funding model which is due to come in to effect from September 2016. The cost of childcare in Ireland is a real and genuine problem that needs to be addressed.
"I personally know of many instances in County Meath where the cost of childcare has prevented a parent to continue or return to work. The additional free pre-school year, which was introduced by Fine Gael in the last Dail term, continues to take just some of this financial pressure away from families.
“It is crucial that we provide continued investment and development in our pre-schools so as to ensure that the sting of childcare costs is somewhat alleviated.”
Doherty continued “From September 2016 in ECCE services, Higher Capitation will be paid to individual ECCE sessions (or rooms) which are led by Early Years professionals with a relevant Level 7 qualification or higher. This changes the current model where the higher capitation rate is only paid if all sessions / rooms in the service are led by staff qualified at Level 7 or higher.
“This reform will allow more services to benefit from extra capitation. From September, services that have multiple ECCE rooms, but only one with a Pre-school Leader with the necessary higher capitation qualification, can avail of this higher funding for part of their service.
“When the ECCE programme was first launched in 2010, the Higher Capitation model was introduced as a quality development measure to encourage the development of a qualified workforce to deliver an education focused curriculum to children in pre-school settings.
“Today, approximately 38% of services participating in the ECCE Programme are currently in receipt of the Higher Capitation grant. It is expected that from September 2016 up to 50% of services will qualify. The sector has asked for this change for some time and believes that it will encourage services to expand and to further develop the quality of their service.
“The reform of the Higher Capitation model is one of a number of measures being taken by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to encourage an increase in the number of ECCE places available to meet increased demand from Sept 2016. From then, all children will be eligible for free pre-school from the time they turn 3 until they start in primary school.”
Concluding, Doherty said “these changes will encourage an increase in the number of ECCE places available to meet increased demand from September 2016. From then, all children will be eligible for free pre-school from the time they turn 3 until they start in primary school. Children will be eligible to enter pre-school at three entry points after they turn three, September, January and April. The number of places will need to expand from 67,000 in 2015 to 127,000 by April 2017 which will be aided by the recently announced €4 million in capital funding.”