In response to the publication of this year’s budget, Minister for Children, Katherine Zappone was “confident” that the preschool scheme could expand to support more families. Entitlement to the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme, is to be expanded from September 2018 to two free years for children aged at least two years and eight months, it was announced on Tuesday.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Ms Zappone detailed how the “unprecedented €1.38 billion” for her department would be spent.
“The extra €73 million will allow us to do more across a wide range of priority areas,” she said, particularly regarding the €40 million increase allocated to Tusla.
In addition to that, there will be a 7 per cent increase in the capitation grant for providers, from €64.50 per week per child to €69. And also where staff have higher qualifications, from €75 per child per week to €80.25.
Building on last years expansion of the scheme, the average preschooler now can avail of 61 weeks of ECCE depending on their date of birth and age starting school.
“Now we are increasing this entitlement to 76 weeks – a significant achievement which will benefit thousands of children, parents, and families.”
But is this enough?
Early Childhood Ireland has stated that the expansion in the budget falls “considerably short” of what was identified as needed earlier this year. Although only a portion of the 15 per cent increase was given, it’s still a step in the right direction for the sector.
Let us know if you’re happy about this news? Or if it’s not enough in your opinion.