Published on 20 September 2023
Last updated on 20 September 2023
We have all witnessed the devastating impact of the ongoing war in Ukraine and the unfolding humanitarian crisis as more and more people are forced to flee their homes. We all want to do what we can to help those in need.
At both local and national government level in Ireland provisions are being made available to give Ukrainians fleeing the conflict a warm welcome. At local level City and County Childcare Committees are supporting Ukrainian children and families with access and participation to Early Learning and Care (ELC) and School-Age Childcare (SAC) services. We know that many ELC/SAC services have already welcomed children and families into their settings and many more will do so over the coming weeks and months.
There are links below to a number of resources for practice and for staff. They are intended to be of benefit to early years educators, school-age practitioners, children and families in many different circumstances across all communities. They are intended to support the well-being and inclusion of refugee children both from Ukraine and from other conflict zones.
Every ELC and SAC setting is different and service providers will need to use their professional judgement in determining how best to welcome and support children and families while ensuring high quality practice to support children’s well-being, learning and development.
The well-being, health and safety of children, their families and those working in the sector is a priority. This web-page provides guidance and signposting for service providers on the supports and resources available to ELC and SAC services. More resources will be added to this web-page over the coming weeks. You are therefore advised to check for updates.
Resources for Staff
This page contains a number of resources and supports to guide and assist providers, educators and practitioners in relation to their own well-being.
Resources for Practice
This page contains a number of resources and supports to guide and assist educators and practitioners in relation to supporting children's well-being, learning and development.
Information for Parents:
Dear Early Learning and Care and School-Age Childcare providers,
The Core Funding Opt-Out Template for NCS and ECCE has been uploaded to Hive here.
Under 5.3.2. and 5.3.3. of the Core Funding Partner Service Funding Agreement, all Partner Services are required to offer ECCE and/or NCS, where applicable, to all eligible children attending their service.
As per 5.3.4. of the Core Funding Partner Service Funding Agreement, where a parent/guardian chooses not to avail of ECCE and/or NCS, the Partner Service must retain and provide proof, if requested, of having offered the parent/guardian the option to avail of ECCE and/or NCS and a record of their wish not to do so. These records may be requested by the Scheme Administrator or other agent of the Minister. The Opt-out Template must be used for such purposes and should be retained as evidence of the parent’s/guardian’s decision for a period of 6 years.
Please note that it will be a matter for the Minister and/or Scheme Administrator to decide whether a clear justification exists for the Partner Service not having registered children on ECCE and/or NCS. In the event that the Minister or Scheme Administrator decides that no justification exists then the provider will be required to register eligible children within its service within 30 days or withdraw from the Funding Agreement 30 days after notice of the Minister/Scheme Administrator’s decision.
The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.
- Over 4,000 services have now applied for a second year of Core Funding, committing to working in partnership with the State for the public good, and to a fee freeze on parental fees.
- Uptake continues to increase, with applications remaining open for the scheme worth €287 million to the sector.
Roderic O’Gorman, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, today announced that 90% of Early Learning and Care (ELC) and School-Age Childcare (SAC) services have signed up for Core Funding.
Core Funding Year 2, which runs from September 2023 to August 2024, provides €287m direct State investment into services in return for a fee freeze, an increase of €28m (11% increase) on its first year.
This year the scheme will continue to support increases to capacity and accessibility for parents whilst also ensuring improved quality and sustainability of Partner Services. €7.22 million is allocated for targeted measures designed to support sessional and small Partner Services in particular.
Core Funding will be allocated based on the service’s capacity, with those services with longer opening hours and higher places receiving more funding. However, smaller services will also see a significant increase in publicly funded financial support.
Recent Tusla data shows that, following the introduction of Core Funding, closures of Early Learning and Care services have fallen to a five year low, while the overall number of Early Learning and Care and standalone School-Aged Childcare services is now increasing.
Welcoming the latest Core Funding application data, Minister O’Gorman said:
“I am delighted that 90% of services have chosen to come into partnership with the State by signing up for the second year of Core Funding, and I am encouraged that this number continues to grow. This substantial funding will promote the interests of children, their families as well as educators and practitioners while at the same time ensuring continued sustainability for providers, and supporting expanded capacity.
I look forward to working in partnership with these services and building on the successes of the new funding model, Together for Better, in the coming year.”
Commenting on the impact of the funding, Lelia Murphy, Crumlin Childcare Centre, says:
“The certainty that Core Funding has given my service has allowed us to improve staff’s pay and conditions and to consider expanding the service.
I see Core Funding as supporting the professionalisation of the sector, by improving pay and conditions and the training opportunities of staff, it has helped to demonstrate to both the staff themselves, but also to parents, the importance of early learning and care and that the first few years are a vital stage of a child’s life.”
Mick Kenny, Urlingford Community Childcare Centre, says
“For my community service, Core Funding has enabled us to budget for the year ahead meaning we have been able to give staff a well-deserved pay raise. As a service working in one of the most disadvantaged parts of Kilkenny, the staff are crucial to delivering child-centred care and it has been heartening to pass on the benefits of Core Funding to them.
While there is much more that needs done, particularly the Equal Participation Model and roll out of hot meals provision, Core Funding is a significant first step in the right direction for our sector and profession.”
More information on Core Funding, including a list of Partner Services for the 2023/2024 programme year which will be published shortly, is available at https://first5fundingmodel.gov.ie/core-funding/ .
Another initiative in the range of measures to ensure that high-quality early learning and childcare is affordable and accessible to all children is the National Childcare Scheme (NCS). The NCS provides financial support to families for their early learning and childcare costs for children from 24 weeks to 15 years.
The NCS will be at the National Ploughing Championships in Rathineska, Co. Laois this year at the Government of Ireland Village, Block 3, Row 23, Stand 360. Expert Advisors will be on hand at the event from 19-21 September, to help with childcare queries and to discuss the range of early learning and childcare supports available to families. More information is available at https://www.ncs.gov.ie/en/