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Contract to deliver IT System for ACS awarded

Contract awarded to deliver IT system for the Affordable Childcare Scheme

Another major milestone achieved in the creation of a new scheme of entitlements for parents towards the cost of childcare

System reflects new frontier of innovative, joined-up and user-friendly public services

Monday 9th July, 2018

On Friday, 6th July 2018 the Minister awarded a contract for the development of the IT system to support the introduction of the Affordable Childcare Scheme.  The contract has been awarded to Codec, an Irish company with global reach, which was successful following a rigorous public procurement process.

Awarding the contract, the Minister noted:

"Last Monday, President Michael D Higgins signed the Childcare Support Act 2018 into law, providing the legal basis for the new Affordable Childcare Scheme.  Today the contract for the scheme's IT system will be signed.  This is certainly a momentous seven days for childcare-bookended by major progress as we put both the legal platform and the IT platform in place for this new scheme.  Block by block we are building a solid foundation for a scheme which will help to transform our childcare system from one of the most expensive in the world to one of the best, and which should help generations of families to come.

I know the burden that childcare costs can be for families.  Access to quality, affordable childcare can transform the situation of many families and that is why I am unwavering in my commitment to increasing investment in childcare."


Once launched, the Affordable Childcare Scheme will provide financial support to help reduce the cost of childcare for parents. Through this financial support, the scheme aims to improve access; assist families to return to work and training; reduce child poverty; and improve outcomes for children. 

The IT system is a central element of the new Affordable Childcare Scheme as it will allow people to apply online for a childcare subsidy and, in the vast majority of cases, be automatically assessed and approved in a timely, user-friendly way, without any need to collect, collate and submit documentary evidence.  As such, it is intended to support busy parents to access the support they need in the easiest possible way.

The system will be developed by Codec, working in close collaboration with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and Pobal, who will act as the scheme administrator.

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How to Guide for ECCE Service Providers (Amended)

As you may be aware, Minister Katherine Zappone announced a number of changes for early years care and education in Budget 2018.
 
 
One of these changes was a 7% increase in the ECCE standard and higher capitation rates which comes into effect from this September 2018. This increase is targeted at increasing the quality of care and education provided through ECCE and, in particular, supporting the recruitment and retention of highly qualified staff. Capitation rates are intended to contribute to the enhancement of the ECCE provision and are not a mechanism to offset fees paid by parents for the time their child may spend in childcare unrelated to ECCE provision (i.e. time over and above the 3 hour free pre-school provision).
 
 
The ECCE fees list will be restructured to reflect this from September 2018. This restructure will provide clarity that both the ECCE funding and the increase is intended to support the service in providing high quality care and education, and is not a childcare subvention payment. The main change to the fees list will be how the fees are displayed and calculated. The standard capitation amount will no longer be subtracted from your “normal fee (before capitation)”.
 
The two current headings in the fees list will be replaced with two new headings; Fee including ECCE (3 free hours) and Fee excluding ECCE. The first column is for ECCE children only and the second column is for non-ECCE children.
 
Early years providers will now input two separate fees in the following way:
 
 
If a parent of an ECCE child is availing of hours over and above the ECCE hours, the service provider must state the fee for those (additional) hours in the Fee including ECCE (3 free hours) column, ensuring that the ECCE hours are provided free of charge to the parent. The Fee excluding ECCEcolumnshould state the fees that would be payable by a parent of a child for the same hours for a non-ECCE child. The fees list should clearly show that the ECCE hours are being provided free of charge.
 
Services must provide ECCE free of charge to parents of ECCE children in return for the capitation. Services should only charge parents of ECCE children for any hours of childcare availed of over and above the ECCE hours. While it is up to services to set their own fees for hours outside of the free ECCE programme, as per previous years a deduction of €64.50 (pro rata) should be made from the fee charged to parents. This applies regardless of the capitation received i.e. Higher Capitation €80.25 or Standard Capitation €69. 
 
 
These changes need to be clearly articulated on the fees list and will be subject to approval.
 
 
Further details on how to input your fees on the new fees list will be available in the ECCE How to Guide. We advise you to consult the How to Guide before completing the fees list for ECCE this programme year.
 
Please note that fees will be monitored for the programme year 2018/19 to ensure that the ECCE programme is provided free of charge to eligible children as per the ECCE Grant Funding Agreement terms and conditions.
 

AIM Level 4 Access and Inclusion Profile

Under level 4, pre-school providers can access a national service where specialists in early years care and education for children with disabilities can provide expert advice, mentoring and support. To avail of this support, pre-school providers, in partnership with parents, will be asked to complete an online Access and Inclusion Profile.  This will look at the strengths, abilities and needs of the child, as well as the strengths and needs of the pre-school setting.  The profile will allow the Early Years Specialist to identify what, if any, additional supports might be required to enable the child’s full participation in pre-school.  A copy of the Access and Inclusion Profile can be accessed here.

The degree of support offered by Early Years Specialists will depend on the needs of the child and the pre-school setting. In some cases, this may involve visiting the pre-school and developing an Individual Access and Inclusion Plan for the child within their pre-school setting, in conjunction with the parent and the pre-school provider.  It may also involve liaising with HSE health and social care professionals to obtain their input and expertise.  

You can contact the Early Years Specialist Service by phone (01-511 7222), by e-mail (aimteam@pobal.ie) or by completing the online Access and Inclusion Profile on PIP.

Investment in play to transform young lives

Investment in play to transform young lives
€250,000 funding awarded to 26 Local Authorities on National Play Day 2018, for new and innovative play and recreation projects
Statement by Minister Katherine Zappone

 

1st July 2018

To mark National Play Day 2018, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Dr Katherine Zappone T.D., today announced funding for children’s play and recreation projects across Ireland.

26 Local Authorities will benefit from funding for projects under the Capital Grant Scheme for Play and Recreation, for new and innovative play and recreation projects and the improvement of existing facilities. The total value of the Scheme is €250,000.

The projects funded by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) include the upgrade and redevelopment of older play spaces, as well as new projects such as:  accessible improvements to community playgrounds; a garden outdoor classroom and the provision of accessible playground equipment that will enable children with disabilities to use and enjoy their local playgrounds with friends and families.

“Play has the ability to transform young lives. It helps our children develop an appetite for adventure, exploration and fun – while also giving big health benefits. I believe play should be accessible to all," said Minister Zappone

This funding will be focused on Play and Recreation projects which are inclusive, accessible, and safe and take into account the views of children and young people”.

The Minister noted that the 2018 Scheme was oversubscribed and competitive. Successful applications were those that best met the funding criteria. Matched funding is being provided in each case by the relevant Local Authority.

“I would like to thank all of those who applied for funding under this Scheme, and to pay tribute to the commitment of the community groups and Local Authorities who are working together to improve the quality of the play and recreation facilities available to children and young people in Ireland”, concluded Minister Zappone.

The announcement of the Capital Grant awards is being made on National Play Day 2018. Since 2011, the DCYA has provided annual funding to support National Play Day. The aim of National Play Day is to help increase public awareness of the importance of play.

Grants are offered to Local Authorities to organise activities that promote a theme that is decided by DCYA and the Local Authority Play and Recreation Network.

The theme for National Play Day 2018 was ‘Celebrating 25 Years of a Child’s Right to Play’. Check with your Local Authority for events running in your region.

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Play and Recreation Funding Projects