Please see the below press release from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs regarding the fifth meeting of the Advisory Group and a report for Government on ’Planning for reopening Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare Services’

Press Release 03062020 2020 06 03

Covid Phased reopening report 3 june

Press Release
Minister Zappone chairs fifth meeting of Advisory Group on planned
reopening of childcare services
3 June, 2020

Minister for Children & Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone this week chaired the fifth meeting of
the expert Advisory Group on the planned reopening of Early Learning and Care (ELC)/School-age
Childcare services (SAC). The Group, together with the recently established Reference Group, are
advising Government as work continues to implement the Roadmap for Reopening Society and
Business. The Government’s Roadmap sees crèches, childminders and preschools opening in phase 3
(29 June).

At the meeting, the Group were updated on ongoing work by Government on the development of a
funding model for the reopening of the sector. It was agreed that the Department of Children &
Youth Affairs will continue to closely liaise with providers in development of this model, through
consultation with the Advisory Group and the Reference Group. The Group were also updated on
the issuing of the Programme Support Payment (PSP), a total support package of €13 million which
will issue this month. The PSP payments recognise the additional time required of providers to
complete the administrative work associated with DCYA-funded early learning and care and school
age childcare programmes. Providers can apply for the PSP through the Pobal portal.

Following the fourth meeting of the Group and first meeting of the Reference Group last week, HPSC
public health guidelines for reopening were issued by the Department to the sector. Further
guidance will continue to issue to the sector in the coming weeks. Childcare service providers are
being asked to apply the public health guidance to their settings, to determine what capacity they
can offer. If there is insufficient capacity for all children whose parents want them to return to the
service on 29 June (the initial phase of reopening), childcare providers will be asked to prioritise the
children of essential and frontline workers and vulnerable children. If there is sufficient capacity,
services will be able to provide places for children who previously registered in childcare services on
12 March, whose parents continue to need childcare for employment or training purposes.

Speaking following the meeting, Minister Zappone said:
“As we continue to work towards the reopening of services at the end of this month, continued
consultation and conversation with the childcare sector is more important than ever. My
Department will continue to support the sector in work towards an orderly, safe and sustainable
reopening of services. Extensive consultation with the sector is a key part of delivering this, and I
want to thank each member of the Advisory Group and the Reference Group for their hard work and
engagement. I want to encourage parents and providers to make contact with each other as the
date for reopening approaches, so we can have as much information as possible on the level of
demand and supply we are dealing with. The voice of parents needs to be heard loud and clear as
we continue to work to implement the Government’s Roadmap. ”

Notes to the Editor
The Department of Children and Youth Affairs is prioritising the actions necessary for reopening full
and part-time childcare services on 29 June. Once these are advanced, priority will move to planning
for the resumption of ECCE (free pre-school programme) at the end of August.
The Department is undertaking extensive consultation and research in developing the plan for
phased reopening of childcare services. This includes the establishment of an expert Advisory Group
to review and develop proposals. The Advisory Group includes representatives chosen by the sector,
specifically the Association of Childhood Professionals, the National Community Forum, Early
Childhood Ireland, the National Childhood Network, PLÉ and Seas Suas. The group also includes
Tusla, Pobal, SIPTU and Childminding Ireland. Collectively members represent tens of thousands of
providers and staff.

The Minister has also established a Reference Group, to supplement the work of the Advisory Group
on phased service reopening, and to give an opportunity for input to provider representatives who
are not on this group. The Minister chaired the first meeting of the Reference Group on the 28 May.
The HPSC guidelines for childcare providers can be found on the DCYA website here;

The Programme Support Payment (PSP)
Programme Support Payments (PSPs) were introduced by Minister Zappone in 2017. The payments
recognise the additional time required of providers to complete the administrative work associated
with DCYA-funded early learning and care and school age childcare programmes. The payment also
recognises the time required to perform activities outside of contact time with children, such as
preparing materials for early learning and care sessions and assisting parents.

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