Tuesday, 6 March 2007
Dáil Eireann Debate
237. Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to Pobal’s recent directive regarding different charges in community creches; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7779/07]
Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children (Mr. B. Lenihan): As the deputy will be aware, I have responsibility for the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000-2006 (EOCP) and the National Childcare Investment Programme 2006-2010 (NCIP), which are being implemented by the Office of the Minister for Children.
Under the EOCP support is provided towards the staffing costs of employing childcare workers in community based childcare facilities in disadvantaged areas, ensuring that less advantaged parents in those areas have access to quality childcare in order to facilitate access to education, training and employment opportunities. Staffing grants under the EOCP have been extended to 31 December 2007 for all groups who are meeting the terms of their existing staffing grant contracts. A new programme of staffing grants under the NCIP is expected to be announced in 2007 and will be informed by the outcome of a Value for Money Review of the EOCP which is currently in progress. The Review is expected to be completed in the first half of 2007 following which the procedures and criteria governing the new grant scheme will be made available both generally and to existing staffing grant recipients.
Under the EOCP staffing grant programme, it is a condition of funding that groups approved funding must develop a fee structure to provide a range of fees to reflect the varied incomes of parents accessing the service and this condition is included in the terms of the contracts issued to grant recipients by Pobal, which is engaged to administer the grants on behalf of my Office. I understand from enquiries I have made that Pobal has issued no general directive to groups recently regarding fee structures. It is the case however that individual groups may have received reminders from Pobal from time to time regarding the need to meet contractual obligations or to provide updates regarding the development of an appropriate fee structure.
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