10 December, 2021 | Posted by Michelle Hogan

Childcare Services Increasingly Publicly Funded Under Reforms - Minister for Children

Childcare Services Increasingly Publicly Funded Under Reforms - Minister for Children

Major reforms to the funding model for early learning and childcare services have been announced in a move towards increasing public funding and management of the sector. 

One of the new items of reform is the introduction of ‘Core Funding’ which is being put forward as the key to unlocking some of the most challenging issues in the current funding system. 

The reforms are the result of an Expert Group report called Partnership for the Public Good which proposes a new approach to State funding of the sector in future, which has been approved by a Cabinet meeting of the Government.

As announced in Budget 2022, there will be a total of €207 million made available to implement the recommendations over time; €78m for 2022.

The new funding model is intended, over time, to deliver the following results:

  • quality improvements to services
  • better pay and conditions for staff
  • tackling disadvantage
  • improved affordability for parents
  • better management of supply to meet demand
  • and support for provider sustainability. 

According to the DCEDIY, Core Funding will support the establishment of an Employment Regulation Order to improve pay and conditions in the sector, ensure stability and sustainability for services and enable parental fees to be controlled so that the full affordability benefits of the ECCE programme and NCS can be realised. 

In return for Core Funding providers will agree to work to achieve these policy outcomes. 

Core Funding, and its associated conditionality, enables a shift away from the marketisation of service delivery and towards a partnership model, with responsibilities and benefits for both the State and providers.

The Expert Group recognised the huge potential for change that can be achieved through greater public management of the existing model of delivery.

The new funding model can be applied to small and large service providers of both early learning and care (ELC) and school-age childcare (SAC), to voluntary providers, sole traders, and for-profit chains, to existing and new providers.   

The report also suggests Universal and targeted Tackling Disadvantage funding, building on Core Funding.

The universal strand will be informed by the universal elements of the Access and Inclusion Model, and the targeted strand informed by the DEIS model in schools. 

The report outlines the continued provision of the universal Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme and the National Childcare Scheme (NCS) as well as an expanded role for the State in managing and supporting supply, quality, accessibility, and affordability. 

The Expert Group’s vision is that the sector 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, practitioners and society overall.   

All material related to the Expert Group, including the report, other publications, and details of the Expert Group membership, is available here.

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