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Minister O’Gorman announces €25m in capital funding to deliver thousands of additional early learning and childcare places

Minister O’Gorman announces €25m in capital funding to deliver thousands of additional early learning and childcare places04 07 24 Building Blocks
From Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth

  • New Building Blocks Extension Grant Scheme to open for applications in autumn
  • Grants for early learning and childcare services to increase their capacity by means of large scale extensions
  • Funding to also be made available for community services to purchase or build new premises
  • This builds on previous Expansion Grant Scheme in 2024, with 23 services provisionally approved for funding to deliver over 300 new places

Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman has today announced details of the €25m Building Blocks Extension Grant scheme for early learning and childcare providers.

The Scheme will deliver additional capacity for one to three-year-olds by supporting existing early learning and childcare Core Funding partner services, both community and private services, to undertake extensions to their existing premises. It will also fund community-based not-for-profit services who wish to purchase or construct new premises.

The Building Blocks Extension Grant Scheme is part of the wider Building Blocks Capital Programme for Early Learning and Childcare under the revised National Development Plan 2021-2030 (NDP). €25 million will be available for the scheme over 2025 and 2026.

Projects with a value between €100,000 and €650,000 will be eligible and can include:

Extensions to existing premises.

  • Installation of modular buildings or buildings built using modern methods of construction.
  • Purchase of early learning and childcare premises (community services only).
  • Purchase of premises that could be easily adapted for use as early learning and childcare premises (community services only).
  • Construction of building to house a new early learning and childcare service on ‘greenfield’ or ‘brownfield’ site (community services only).

The Extension Grant scheme follows on from the Expansion Grant scheme which ran earlier this year. Minister O’Gorman is also today announcing that 23 services were successful in the appraisal process under that scheme and their projects have been recommended for funding. Successful services are being contacted directly by Pobal to agree next steps required to proceed to contracting. Grants of between €25,000 and €100,000 have been recommended for projects to undertake renovation or upgrades to existing space to cater for more children. The funding is anticipated to deliver 308 new places for one to three-year-olds.

Making the announcement today, Minister O’Gorman said:

“I am very pleased for the services who were successful in their applications under the Building Blocks Expansion Grant Scheme. This will deliver a welcome increase in places, particularly for young children.”

Minister O’Gorman said that the next phase – the Building Blocks Extension Grant Scheme – will be more ambitious and have an even greater impact on the sector. He said:

“I am delighted to announce this large-scale capital grant scheme. The Building Blocks Extension Grant Scheme will provide funding to support services to deliver thousands more of affordable early learning and childcare places.

“It is the first time in many years that public funding is being made available for the purchase or construction of new premises. This element of the scheme, along with funding for large scale extensions, will support us to achieve our national target of having 60,000 places for under 3s by 2028.”

He added:

“My Department, working in partnership with the sector, has achieved huge success in recent years in improving the affordability of early learning and childcare.

“Improved affordability, along with increased population and high levels of employment, has increased demand for early learning and childcare. The Extension Grant scheme is an important initiative from Government to the sector to assist them in responding to that increased demand.”

The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth continues to progress a range of other actions to increase the supply of quality and affordable early learning and childcare. These include the ongoing development and additional resourcing of Core Funding, which has given rise to a significant expansion of places since the scheme was first introduced, as well as the regulation of childminders under the National Action Plan for Childminding, which will allow the National Childcare Scheme to open to parents who use childminders from autumn 2024.

The Department is also working with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage to review the 2001 Planning Guidelines for Childcare Facilities, including through the undertaking of a survey of planning authorities on their application.

Separately, the Department of Education has recently published Procedures for the Use of School Buildings Outside of School Hours which encourages and supports the use of school buildings for early learning and care and school age childcare where there is scope to do so.

An additional €5 million in capital funding in 2025 under the NDP will also support services who are experiencing sustainability threats due to problems with their buildings and the continuation of Childminding Development Grants to support the introduction of regulation to this element of the sector as well as the continuation of the Parent and Toddler Grant Scheme.


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