In meetings with childcare providers and their staff strong views were expressed in relation to the need to improve the core funding model.
Below is the reply by the Minister for Children to my most recent Dáil Question on this issue of great importance to the early education sector:
For Written Answer on : 29/06/2022
Question Number(s): 125 Question Reference(s): 34683/22
Department: Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
To ask the Minister for Children; Equality; Disability; Integration and Youth if contracts in relation to core funding will issue to childcare providers without further delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The key conditions to be associated with Core Funding were outlined in the report of the Expert Group, Partnership for the Public Good: A New Funding Model for Early Learning and Care and School-Age Childcare. This was published on 7th December 2021 and states that providers who sign up to Core Funding should be required to:
– Follow the fee management system – in 2022/23 this will be a requirement not to increase fees above September 2021 levels;
– Implement the quality improvement measures under the Nurturing Skills, the workforce plan for ELC and SAC;
– Implement the relevant practice frameworks;
– Develop, implement, and report on an annual quality development plan;
– Provide transparent financial reports and participate as required in cost surveys and other necessary data-collection exercises; and
– Offer the NCS and ECCE programme to all eligible children/parents, including children accessing the NCS through sponsorship arrangements. The full Funding Agreement for Core Funding was published on 28th June. The Core Funding application process will open in late July. The Funding Agreement will be available to sign through the Early Years Hive in mid August. Payments will be made monthly in advance with the first payment in respect of September to be paid at the end of August.
The new funding model being implemented aims to transform the sector to one that is increasingly publicly funded and publicly managed, delivering a service for the public good, through a partnership between the State and providers, to the benefit of children, parents, those who work in the sector, and society overall.
This transformation starts with Core Funding and the new approach will entail a shift in the relationship between the State and providers in relation to delivering ELC and SAC, with new responsibilities on both sides. It is my ambition that the maximum number providers choose to participate in this partnership to deliver ELC and SAC for the public good and come into contract for Core Funding. Core Funding however is optional for providers.
I look forward to working together in partnership with providers to deliver ELC and SAC services for the public good.