€4m to be pumped into improving childcare services

Additional childcare places will make up the majority of funding

€4m to be pumped into improving childcare services

File photo | Image: RollingNews.ie

The Children's Minister Katherine Zappone has announced that €4m is being provided to improve childcare services.

Dr Zappone says the funding will help put infrastructure in place to support plans to turn Ireland's childcare system from one of the most expensive in the world to the best.

The 2017 Early Years Capital Funding programme is to be made available to childcare centres, crèches and other early year services under three strands.

  • Strand 1 will see additional childcare places to the tune of €3m
  • Strand 2 will see building improvements and maintenance up to €500,000
  • And Strand 3 will supply natural outdoor play areas for €500,000

Strand 1 will accommodate applications for children in the 0-5 age range, with the maximum grant available under this strand of €50,000.

Strand 2 will provide grants of up to a maximum of €20,000 for building improvements and maintenance and is exclusively for community - and not for profit - early years services.

While Strand 3 provides funding for natural outdoor play areas, targeted at smaller services that have not availed of such funding before.

On the funding, Minister Zappone said: "As minister I am determined that we will deliver quality, affordable, accessible childcare.

"Our goals are ambitious. We must lift the cost barrier which is preventing too many families from accessing services.

"Today we take another step to putting the infrastructure in place to support our plans by providing €4m in capital funding - which will build on similar funding provided last year."

Last year, Minister Zappone announced that homeless children would be entitled to 25 hours of free childcare a week.

She added: "I encourage providers to use this scheme to increase both the quantity and quality of childcare places.

"This funding is in addition to €3m we announced earlier this month to improve childcare services for children of school-going age.

"As this money is being made available I am also progressing the legislation which will underpin the radical new approach to subsidising childcare outlined as part of Budget 2017."

The department says more than 1,000 services received capital funding under the 2016 capital scheme enabling all qualifying applications to be fully funded.

It also says all of this funding has been fully utilised.