What does Budget 2018 mean for you as a childcare provider?
Developments in the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme
■ From September 2018, the ECCE scheme will be made available to all children over the age of two years and eight months for two full programme years.
• The scheme will operate with a single entry point in September of each programme year (beginning September 2018. The January and April entry points in 2018 will remain).
• All children within the relevant age bracket will be entitled to 76 weeks of the scheme (two 38-week programme years). The upper age limit on finishing ECCE will remain at 5 years 6 months.
This initiative will ensure an equitable two year entitlement for all children. The single entry point is, I understand, favoured by providers for many reasons.
■ From September 2018, capitation rates for ECCE will increase by 7%.
• Increases will apply both to the standard capitation rate (increase from €64.50 to €69) and the higher capitation rate (increase from €75 to €80.25), where the criteria are met.
Other Early Years developments
■ Programme Support Payments
• Programme Support Payments, previously known as non-contact time payments, to assist with non-contact costs associated with the schemes are now fully secured and will be available again in 2018 and thereafter. €14.5m was originally secured in Budget 2017, and this was topped up by €3.5m this summer for services who signed up to the September measures. The latter was provided however on a one-off basis. The full allocation of €18 million is now in the EY funding base going forward.
■ Sustainability efforts
• An additional €500,000, in addition to the €1 million secured in Budget 2017, will be made available to support providers whose viability is under threat.
• An additional €1 million has been secured for investment inspection and registration in Tusla and the Department of Education and Skills to assure the quality of early years services
• An additional €1 million for capital expenditure for early years and school aged childcare. This is on top of €7.5 million baseline capital funding.
■ City/County Childcare Committees
• An additional €500,000 for staffing costs for CCC5 for pay restoration in line with national pay agreements
■ Additional funding for full year implementation costs of September measures to improve affordability
■ A total of 45,000 children are already benefiting from the September measures, 24,000 from the universal payment and 21,000 from the targeted schemes. The numbers are increasing day by day. The additional funding received will ensure that the full year costs of these measures in 2018 are covered and that the schemes can remain open to new registrants.