Tuesday, 2 November 2004
Dáil Eireann Debate
262. Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Finance the number of employees per Civil Service crèche; the average cost per child of the service for parents; the cost per child to the Exchequer of providing the service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26797/04]
In the budget of 2001, the Minister for Finance allocated €12.7 million for the provision of crèches for the children of civil servants throughout Ireland. The allocation was part of a major initiative by the Government to improve child care provision and increase the number of child care places available.
There are five crèches in operation under the Civil Service child care initiative. Each of these can accommodate approximately 30 children, giving a total of some 150 places. There are two crèches in Dublin, in Mount Street and Marlborough Street, and three in regional locations, Ennis, Athlone and Sligo. A total of €4.357 million has been allocated by the Minister for Finance to date for the provision and fitting out by OPW of these premises. In addition, an operator has recently been appointed to the crèche built as part of the Government laboratories campus at Backweston, County Kildare. This crèche is expected to open in January 2005 and will accommodate approximately 33 children. It will also be managed under the Civil Service child care initiative.
An interim board arranges for the selection of operators for the crèches. Selections are made following open tendering competitions and operators manage the crèches under licence. The operators are independent in the day to day running of the crèches and the employment of staff, but are open to appropriate inspection, including value for money audit, under the terms of the licence. Under the initiative, the crèche premises are provided to the operator free of rent, together with appropriate fittings and furnishings. Security, heating and electricity in respect of the ordinary operation of the crèche are also provided. The average annual cost for the security, heating and electricity of each crèche is estimated to be in the region of €7,500. All other running costs of the crèches, including the remuneration of the provider, are met from the fees charged to parents.
The fees are paid entirely by parents and are agreed by the board with the operator. Any increases are subject to board approval. The fees vary depending on the location of the crèche and the age of the child. The weekly fees set out in the licences and agreed between the operators and the board for full time care range from €92 to €100 for toddlers and €110 to €123 for babies in the regional locations. In Dublin, prices range from €134 for toddlers to €155 for babies per week.
The Government is committed to creating a working environment which allows staff to balance work and family responsibilities. The provision of child care places is an important element in helping our employees to achieve this balance and in attracting and retaining experienced staff. The future direction of the Civil Service child care initiative will be reviewed in light of the decentralisation programme, with consideration given to the provision of child care in the decentralised locations.
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