Crèches asked to waive fees for children staying home in return for top-up funding

Services that are open can receive 100% of ECCE funding if they waive fees, hold places

Childcare services remain open only for vulnerable children and the children of parents working in an essential service until March 5th.  Photograph: iStock

Childcare services remain open only for vulnerable children and the children of parents working in an essential service until March 5th. Photograph: iStock

 

Crèches that are still open will be asked to waive fees for children not attending childcare in exchange for top-up funding, Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman has announced.

This would include the children of non-essential workers, who are not permitted to send them to creche, and the children of essential workers who are being kept home.

Last month, all providers received full funding under both schemes.

However, services that are open will be able to receive 100 per cent of their ECCE funding, if they waive fees for non-participating children, hold their places, and also retain staff.

There will be an additional Covid-19 support payment for childcare services that rely largely on parental fees - usually so-called “full service” creches that provide day-long childcare.

Enhanced wage subsidies, which allow childcare providers to access salary supports for staff without having to demonstrate reduction, will continue to be available.

For childcare services that are closed, they can receive 70 per cent of their ECCE funding, 100 per cent of other schemes, and the top-up for those heavily reliant on parental fees.

Mr O’Gorman received approval for the plan at cabinet yesterday.

The pre-school ECCE programme will continue to be suspended, and childcare services remain open only for vulnerable children and the children of parents working in an essential service, for the duration of the extended and enhanced Level 5 restrictions - until March 5th.

The plan is outlined in a letter sent to childcare providers today.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the independent early years’ service providers body, Seas Suas, said: “What we are learning through media reports is that existing supports have been extended for five weeks in line with the lockdown extension. While welcome, this only addresses half of the problem.

“There are tens of thousands of children who either do not qualify or only partially qualify under the scheme which today’s announcement covers. It may be as many as only half of the over 200,000 children who depend on childcare providers. Today’s update offers no clarity to the parents and carers of these children.”