‘The National Covid-19 Out of Hours/ Weekend Helpline (1800 940 341) is in operation from 10am-1pm and 1.30pm-4pm Weekends and Bank Holidays ONLY. For ELC/SAC Providers with positive cases you can also contact the HSE ELC/SAC dedicated phone line on: 01 511 9777. For General Covid-19 Queries you can contact HSE Live on 1800 700 700 or 01 240 8787 (Monday to Friday: 8am – 8pm, Saturday and Sunday 9am – 5pm)or visit https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/covid19/
For additional information and guidance on Covid-19 related issues, ELC/SAC providers can access First 5 and HSPC websites via the links below:
COVID-19 public health advice effective from Monday, 28 February 2022. Neither physical distancing measures (such as play-pods) nor mask-wearing will be required in ELC or SAC services from 28 February, but hygiene measures remain important, and both staff and children should stay at home if symptomatic.
Updated guidance for ELC and SAC including childminding settings, effective from 28 February, can be accessed by clicking the button below.
Please note that the previous Infection Prevention and Control guidance for Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare settings during the COVID-19 Pandemic (which was most recently updated on 14 January 2022) will be stood down by the HPSC, and will no longer apply from 28 February.
The pre-COVID ‘Management of Infectious Diseases in Childcare Facilities and Other Childcare Settings’ (2012) remains in place for general Infection Prevention and Control measures – details can be found here.
Today the HPSC published updated National Interim Guidance for Public Health Management of COVID-19 cases and close contacts which Early Learning and Childcare settings should refer to for the management of COVID-19 – details can be found here.
We hope this information is of assistance to you. If you should have any further queries, please contact your local City or County Childcare Committee – details can be found here.
19th January 2022 – Updated Public Health Guidance from the HPSC for ELC and SAC settings
HPSC has published as of yesterday, 18 January 2022, updated versions of the following documents which will support you in the operation of your ELC/SAC setting:
Isolation quick guide for parents and guardians of children older than 3 months and up to 13 years of age
A number of providers have been in contact with the Department in relation to section 1 of the Isolation quick guide for parents and guardians of children older than 3 months and up to 13 years of age and whether a child can return to Early Learning and Childcare after day 7. The HPSC have provided the following clarification to this query: Yes, the child can attend childcare after day 7, provided their symptoms have substantially or fully resolved for the final 2 days (48 hours) of the self-isolation period.
17th January 2022 – Updated Isolation Guides (updated 7th Jan)
FAQs for School Principals, Early Learning and Care (ELC) and School Age Childcare (SAC) Managers or those hosting sports/social activities for children ages 3 months to less than 13 years, or in primary school.
These FAQs are to support the implementation of the decision announced by the Minister of Health, in line with recommendations from NPHET that from Monday September 27th routine contact tracing of symptomatic close contacts in children >3 months -13 years, including for those attending primary educational and ELC/SAC settings will no longer take place
Update from HSE for Early Learning and Care (ELC) and School Age Childcare (SAC) managers and school principals on the changes to COVID 19 testing and contact tracing for children, 3months to under 13 years (and inclusive of all children attending primary school)
Inspectorate’s plans for inspections of Early Learning and Care (ELC) settings (31st August)
Providers please see below circular from the Department of Education (DE), which provides information regarding the Inspectorate’s plans for inspections of Early Learning and Care (ELC) settings between September 2021 and June 2022.
The circular provides an update to the DE’s previous circular issued to the ELC sector in April 2021, including an update on plans for the extension of DE education-focused inspections to 0-3 year olds.
A message from the Chief Inspector of the DE Inspectorate, Harold Hislop, to ELC settings is also attached.
An Irish version of both documents is also attached.
The priority for Early learning and Care (ELC) and School-Age Childcare (SAC) settings in Ireland operating during COVID-19 will be to ensure the health and safety of children, families and staff, while continuing to ensure quality practice to support children’s well-being, learning and development. This section provides some helpful documents on health and safety.
Public Health Webinar on Infection Control Guidance for Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare Settings, 7 July 2021 [click here to watch]
HPSC Webinar on Infection Control Guidance for Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare Settings, 29 January 2021 [View here]
Dr. Abigail Collins, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, provides advice regarding the safety of ELC and SAC settings for Essential Workers during the current level 5 restrictions in the video links below.
HSE Memo 9th February Re: Face Coverings, Covid Testing and Key Public Health Messages [View here]
14th April 2021 – Resumption of DCEDIY compliance checks on the ECCE programme from 19 April
Further to the communication issued on 15 February 2021, when the DCEDIY announced that compliance checks would resume on a staggered basis, Pobal will now commence compliance checks on the ECCE programme from 19 April.
The ECCE compliance checks will be carried out remotely (desk-based) and in full compliance with public health advice. The ECCE checks will also contain checks on AIM funding. Services who are selected for ECCE compliance checks will be required to submit relevant documents to Pobal, who will then review them. This may involve additional correspondence where clarifications are sought.
Resumption of compliance on other DCEDIY funded schemes, including NCS, is expected to follow in the coming weeks and advance notice will be given.
Correspondence in relation to previous compliance checks, notably CCSP compliance checks which commenced in late 2020, will resume to allow completion of current compliance checks.
If your service is selected for compliance checks and you are experiencing difficulties in responding to Pobal’s compliance requests, we would urge you to contact Pobal at email@example.com for assistance, as soon as possible. Pobal, when contacted, can discuss possible options to help ease the administrative burden associated with compliance checks.
Department of Education (DE) arrangements for the inspection of ELC settings for April – June 2021
The DE Inspectorate has released a circular (attached) which provides information regarding the inspection, research and evaluation engagement with ELC settings until June 2021. It also provides an update to the DE’s previous circular issued to the ELC sector in June 2020.
Further, the circular details plans for the extension of DE education-focused inspections to 0-3 year olds. The Inspectorate at DE is currently working on the development of the 0-6 education-focused inspection model in line with the commitment in First 5 and this development work will continue in a sample of ELC settings in the period from 12 April 2021.
The DCEDIY looks forward to your cooperation with the above.
1st April 2021 – Important information on NCS, ECCE, CCSP Saver attendance rules
Attendance variation rule extension In July 2020, the Department introduced added flexibility on attendance rules under NCS. This change allows for 2 hours variation in attendance against registration per week without triggering a report, for non-NCS a 30 minute variance tolerance per day per child is allowed, these temporary measures were introduced in response to the exceptional environment caused by COVID-19. This measure has been further extended and will now last until 30 April 2021.
You can find links to Attendance Trackers to support your attendance keeping for NCS on the Attendance Rules page of the Early Years Hive. This page also contains the rules around child absence and under attendance under the scheme for your benefit.
NCS, ECCE, CCSP attendance rules Following the full resumption, without restriction, of all Early Learning and Care (ELC), School-Age Childcare (SAC) services from 29 March, attendance rules will revert as per the NCS policy guidelines and the ECCE and CCSP Saver programme rules.
If you are required to close a play-pod on foot of public health advice, the attendance rules will be suspended for the children affected for the duration of the closure, it should be noted on the on-site attendance record that the play-pod is closed for the reason outlined. Entire service closures will continue to be covered by Force Majeure rules
Return of all children to Early Learning and Care (ELC), School-Age Childcare (SAC), including childminders on Monday, 29 March 2021
As you are aware, from 29 March, all Early Learning and Care (ELC), School-Age Childcare (SAC) services, including childminders, can operate for all children without restriction.
Children who have been away from settings for a period of time will now return to familiar surroundings, re-join friends, re-establish routines and reap the benefits of engaging in play and learning. The full reopening of the sector will also support families and working parents in particular.
We would like to acknowledge and thank you again, for all your hard work since the onset of Covid-19 and, in particular since January, whether your service was open and providing services to vulnerable children and the children of essential workers; has reopened to ECCE children in March; or was closed but you and your staff continued to engage remotely with the children who usually attend.
DCEDIY funding arrangements return to normal from 29 March – with funding provided under the ECCE Programme, the NCS and other legacy schemes.
Services also continue to be eligible for the Revenue-operated Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), which has been extended until 30 June 2021.
It is also open for services to apply for the Covid-19 Impact Support Scheme. This new strand of sustainability funding is available on a rolling basis throughout 2021 for eligible ELC and SAC services that require further financial assistance in addition to current support measures available. Please contact your CCC for information and advice on this new scheme.
We would like to take this opportunity to remind services that, while no environment is without risk in relation to Covid-19, your continued effective adherence to the HSE’s Infection Prevention and Control guidance for ELC and SAC services has helped to minimise the risk of spread of infection within services and has ensured that the number of positive cases is low compared to other sectors of the economy.
We would also like to advise you that the HSE has today, 25 March, issued a revised version of the public health guidance for services. The revised Guidance can be found at
Face coverings (p.11): A reminder that staff in ELC and SAC services must wear face coverings when it is not possible to keep a 2m distance from other adults. Staff are also advised to wear a face covering when in close proximity to children if doing so does not pose a barrier to early learning and care. The Guidance specifically notes that It is expected that use of face coverings will generally be practical when attending to school age children. This aligns with the approach in schools.
The assessment of whether the wearing of a face covering is a barrier to early learning and care ((for pre-school children) will need to be made on a case by case basis. However, it will be impacted by factors such as the ages of the children, the types of interaction between the staff member and the child, whether the interaction is happening inside or outside, etc. For example, opportunities to wear face coverings without impacting on early learning and care may be more frequent when working with older (e.g. ECCE children) but less frequent with toddlers or babies.
Ventilation: The Guidance emphasises the importance of ventilation (see pages 10, 11, 14 and 16).
Other: The Guidance also includes the most up to date information on spread of the virus (p.4), sampling and testing (p.5), vaccine roll out (p.6), periods of self-isolation and restricted movements (p.18) and a reminder to staff to minimise contacts inside and outside of work (p.21).
Reopening Guidance videos
Please find below YouTube playlist links to the recently produced reopening guidance videos issued by the Department available in both English and Irish.
Providers and their staff are advised to read the revised Guidance closely and update policies and procedures as required.
We wish you well on Monday morning.
Early Years Communications Team
11th March -Resumption of Compliance announcement
Further to our communication issued on 15 February, when Department announced that compliance checks would resume on a staggered basis, Pobal commenced verification checks in the Temporary Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme (TWSCS) on 22 February.
The TWSCS verification checks are being carried out remotely (desk-based) and in full compliance with public health advice. Services will be required to submit relevant documents upon request to Pobal who will then assess them. This may involve additional correspondence where clarifications are sought.
If your service has been selected for a verification check on the TWSCS and you are experiencing difficulties in responding to Pobal’s compliance requests, we would urge you to contact Pobal at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance, as soon as possible. Pobal can discuss possible options to ease any administrative burden of the verification process. In relation to compliance checks commencing on other Departmental funded schemes, advance notice will be given to allow you to prepare for remote-based checks.
The Department would like to thank you all services for your continued efforts during this exceptional time.
11th March – Covid-19 Operating Support Payment (COSP) extension information
The Covid-19 Operating Support Payment (COSP) has been extended to cover the period 8th March to 28th March. All services eligible for the extended COSP were notified on Friday, 5th March. To receive funding, all services eligible for COSP are required to accept terms and conditions of funding. To facilitate this, a COSP funding agreement relating to the extended period, will be available on HIVE from Friday, 12th March to Friday, 26th March.
Eligible COSP services who have accepted the terms and condition of funding by COB on Monday, 15th March will be paid on Friday, 19th March. Thereafter, payments will be issued on a weekly basis.
Help and support
Should you have any queries in relation to the Covid-19 Operating Supports outlined above please contact the Early Years Provider Centre by raising a Request on Hive and selecting the following categories:
Request Type Detail: COSP General Query
Request Type: COSP
Programme Request: Covid 19 Supports
5th March – Letter from Ronan Glynn
The Deputy Chief Medical Officer (DCMO) Dr Ronan Glynn has this evening wrote a letter to parents of children returning to ELC/SAC over the coming weeks. Please see a copy of the letter below. Letter from DCMO
4th March – Important information on Emergency Measures 8 – 28 March 2021
Full details of the funding arrangements for the period 8th March to 28th March were announced by the Government on Tuesday, 23rd February and can be found here: March Provider FAQs v1 final pdf
Covid-19 Operating Support Payment (COSP)
This scheme has been extended to cover period 8th March to 28th March. All services eligible for COSP will be required to accept the terms and conditions of funding including:
During the period 8 March to 28 March, be open and providing ELC or SAC, or closed with permission of the Department or at the direction of the Government, Department or public health authorities;
Not charge parental fees for the period 8 March to 28 March, for any children who are not attending the service, whether or not they are receiving subsidy under any of the following Department funding schemes – NCS, ECCE, CCSP and TEC;
Maintain places for all children in the service, including those who do not attend between 8 March to 28 March;
Make all reasonable effort to retain all of the staff in the service;
Make all reasonable effort to engage with children not attending the service; and
Make all reasonable effort to engage staff who are not attending the premises to participate in continuing professional development or planning or administrative activities.
The COSP funding agreement will be available on HIVE from Friday, 12th March and further guidance on the application process will be published next week.
Closed services must continue to apply for Force Majeure by raising a Service Request on Hive. Force Majeure applications will be reviewed and approved/declined accordingly. All approved closures, with the exception of those directed by public health, will be required to agree to the terms and conditions as outlined above in order to receive and/or maintain any funding from DCEDIY for this period. Please note force majeure will no longer be approved for services claiming no demand from 8th March 2021.
Eligible COSP services who have accepted the terms and condition of funding by COB on Monday, 15th March, will be paid on Friday, 19th March. Thereafter payments will be issued on a weekly basis.
Help and support
Should you have any queries in relation to the Covid 19 Operating Supports outlined above please contact the Early Years Provider Centre by raising a Request on Hive and selecting the following categories:
Request Type Detail: COSP General Query
Request Type: COSP
Programme Request: Covid 19 Supports
3rd March – Covid-19 Guidance posters
Some advice for parents, practitioners and service providers, along with transport providers, in advance of the phased re-opening of Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare services.
You can download a copy of these posters below. These can be printed and displayed in your service or shared via email.
The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY) is pleased to announce that the application process for COVID-19 Impact Support will begin on Monday 1 March.
This funding will be available throughout 2021 for eligible ELC and SAC services that require further financial assistance in addition to current support measures available and others that may be announced throughout the year.
It is a funding option of last resort and will only be available to services which have exhausted all other funding support options. Funding will be provided to successful applicants which have experienced an income/expenditure deficit in respect of the childcare aspect of their business/organisation, and which do not have sufficient funds in reserve (in their business/organisation) to absorb this deficit. Funding is not available to replace all lost income; funding is available only to fill an actual shortfall where the applicant cannot meet all of their current costs.
Funding will be provided to successful applicants retrospectively for the previous calendar month; i.e. while the application process for January will begin on 1 March, applications for funding for February will be accepted from 8 March, and funding for subsequent months can be applied for in the following month. Services that continue to experience an income/expenditure deficit may reapply as many months as necessary.
Who is eligible to apply? As with last year’s COVID-19 Sustainability Support, both Community and Private ELC and SAC Services are eligible to apply i.e. for-profit and not-for profit services of all kinds (ELC, SAC, sole traders and companies, etc.). All applicants must fulfil the following eligibility criteria to be considered for this fund, and will be required to sign a declaration stating that this is the case: 1. Have a DCYA reference number for the facility for which they are applying for. 2. Be registered with Tusla. 3. Must have an active contract with DCEDIY to provide Early Learning and Care and or School Age Childcare Programmes. 4. If the applicant has employees, they must be registered for the EWSS. 5. Demonstrate a decrease in income due to lower uptake of ELC and SAC places compared to December 2020 and/or demonstrate increased costs due to the impact of COVID-19 compared to December 2020. 6. Where applicable, must have stopped charging fees to parents whose children are not attending at the point of application (if not earlier); and issue or have issued refunds/credit notes in respect of pre-paid fees. 7. Must have applied for all available funding supports. 8. Must have experienced a deficit in the month applied for, and must not have sufficient reserves to absorb it If your service is facing challenges and you think this funding may be applicable to it, please commence the process of applying by contacting your local CCC from Monday 1 March.
Contact details for the CCCs can be found at https://myccc.ie/
24th Feb – FAQs relating to the gradual lifting of restrictions for ELC and SAC
Please find below FAQ document covering the period March 8th to March 29th. These FAQs reflect the announcement made by the Minister yesterday evening with regard to the gradual lifting of restrictions on delivery of early learning and childcare services from 8th March.
23rd Feb -Minister O’Gorman announces gradual lifting of restrictions on delivery of early learning and childcare services from 8 March
As part of the COVID-19 Resilience and Recovery 2021 – The Path Ahead approved by Government today (23 February), Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O’Gorman, T.D., has announced the gradual lifting of restrictions on the operation of early learning and childcare services, subject to continued improvement in the public health situation. Since January, early learning and childcare services have been restricted to children of essential workers and vulnerable children only and the ECCE pre-school programme has been suspended. As part of a careful and cautious reopening of priority sectors of society and the economy, early learning and childcare services will open for other groups of children throughout March on a phased basis.
From 8 March, the ECCE Programme will reopen for all participating children; and
From 29 March, subject to public health advice, other restrictions will be lifted so that all other children can return to early learning and childcare services (i.e. those that are not the children of essential workers or not vulnerable children).
From 8 March, there will be a return to normal funding arrangements under Department funding schemes. A Covid-19 Operating Support Payment (COSP) introduced in February will be extended until 26 March for eligible services. This will help to offset loss of parental fees for services which are highly reliant on private income. Services continue to be eligible for the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) and are exempt from the turnover rule. The EWSS has been extended until end June.
Outlining the arrangements, Minister O’Gorman said: “Since January, the early learning and childcare sector has continued to operate for priority groups. This has been a difficult period for everyone across the country, and I would like to pay tribute to staff, service providers, and parents for their efforts during this time.
It is our intention that the ECCE pre-school programme will resume from 8 March. This Programme significantly contributes to children’s early learning and development experiences and is particularly beneficial to children who have additional needs or experience disadvantage. It is also an important foundational stage that will prepare children transitioning to primary education this September. Subject to public health advice, other restrictions on access to early learning and childcare will be lifted on 29 March so that all other children can return to services. This cautious and phased reopening schedule is essential as we work towards a safe resumption of all early learning and childcare services.
Additional funding, based on the funding arrangements which were introduced from 1 February to 5 March, will continue until 26 March so that services can remain open, even at very low levels of occupancy. This will ensure services can continue to waive fees for parents not using a service at this time.”
Further information on the reopening schedule and the funding arrangements will issue to early learning and childcare providers on 24 February.
12 Feb – Technical Guide for Emergency Measures.
Please find the technical guide for the emergency measures below
12 February – Covid-19 Operating Supports for the period 1st February – 5th March 2021
The funding agreement for ELC/SAC funding measures covering the period 1st February – 5th March will be available on Hive from 10am today (Friday, 12th February) until close of business on Friday, 26th February.
All ELC and SAC services, including ECCE only services are requested to review the February Provider FAQs V.2 final to determine standard and/or enhanced funding levels available from February 1st to March 5th to and the terms and conditions of that funding based on the status and nature of your service (see questions 3 to 16 of the FAQs).
It is extremely important that you review the FAQs and are fully aware of the implications of signing/not signing this funding agreement for your service.
Following review of this material, and in order to receive certain funding described in the FAQs you will be required to sign-up for the terms and conditions.
To determine standard and/or enhanced funding levels, services must indicate on a weekly basis whether they are open or closed throughout the period 1st Feb – 5th March. If a service is closed, a reason must be provided and where necessary supporting documentation attached. Closure information will be reviewed and approved or declined as appropriate. This process will replace the current off-line Force Majeure for the week of submission only. Weekly Force Majeure due to lack of demand must be submitted on a weekly basis through normal processes.
Covid 19 Operating Support Payment (COSP)
Services eligible for COSP will be able to view their weekly COSP allocation as part of the contracting process. In order to receive COSP funding, eligible services must accept the terms and conditions of funding and if closed, have an approved closure period. (See Force Majeure above) Services awaiting the outcome of a COSP review request, should not complete the contracting process until the review outcome has been finalised.
Services who have contracted by COB on Monday 15th February, and who have confirmed that they will be open for all weeks in the period, will be paid on Friday 19th February. Service Providers who have indicated closed weeks in the period, will require review and on approval will be paid in the subsequent weekly payment runs. To ensure services are receiving funding as quickly as possible, payments will be issued on a weekly basis from 19th February onwards.
Help and support Should you have any queries in relation to the Covid 19 Operating Supports outlined above please contact the Early Years Provider Centre by raising a Request on Hive and selecting the following categories:
Request Type Detail: COSP General Query
Request Type: COSP
Programme Request: Covid 19 Supports
4th February – Extension to Covid-19 Standard Operating Payment (COSP) Review Process
The closing date for submitting a COSP review request has been extended to close of business on Monday 15th February. This additional time is to allow services more time to check their COSP calculation. If you believe your COSP calculation is incorrect (e.g. incorrect Tusla or DCEDIY ref. number used or there is a calculation error), you may request a review.
To seek a review you must provide evidence that the calculation or the figures used to calculate the payment are incorrect; it is not sufficient to claim that you are eligible for a payment. Please note, to date, in most review cases the COSP calculation has been confirmed to be correct. Eligibility criteria and the basis for the COSP calculation are as follows;
Your service must be registered with Tusla, either on the EY or the SAC Register or both. Your service must have at least one child registered on a DCEDIY funding scheme. The total value of DCEDIY funding schemes (ECCE, AIM, NCS, and legacy schemes) allocated to the service in the week ending 13 December 2020 must be less than 45% of the “calculated-income-capacity” of the service. Your service’s “calculated-income-capacity” is determined by the following formula:
Maximum number of children the service was allowed to accommodate in December 2020.
Multiplied by 0.83
Multiplied by the average weekly fee in the county in which the service operates for the service type.
Maximum number of children the service can accommodate
This is determined by reference to the figure for “No. of children service can accommodate” as specified on the currently published version of the Register on the Tusla website, which is the December 2020 Register (uploaded to the Tusla website in January 2021). If your service provides ELC (or if it provides both ELC and SAC), the figure is taken from the Early Years Register. If your service only provides SAC, the figure is taken from the SAC Register. The Register on the Tusla website is used as it the legal, published Register. In some cases, services have applied to Tusla for a Change in Circumstances in the number of children the service can accommodate, but Tusla has not yet approved the change. Corrections to COSP calculations are only accepted if Tusla has written to a provider stating that the Change in Circumstances has been approved, and if the approval was given before (or in) December 2020.
Average weekly fees These are published in the FAQs of 29 January 2021. The average weekly fee is distinguished by (a) the county the service is located in, (b) whether the service is private or community, and (c) the longest session type for which the service is registered. If the service offers both ELC and SAC, it is treated as a full-day service when assessing the average weekly fee. If the service offers only SAC, the average fee used is the fee for holiday periods.
Calculation Where a service is deemed eligible for COSP, the COSP payment is 20.28% of the difference between (a) the total value of DCEDIY funding schemes (ECCE, AIM, NCS, legacy schemes) allocated to the service in the week ending 13 December 2020, and (b) the service’s “calculated-income-capacity”. Further guidance on how to check your COSP calculation including case studies can be found in the FAQs of 29 January 2021 – see link above.
Measures for ineligible services The COSP has been designed to be a sustainability support for those services identified as being most likely to face sustainability issues if they do not charge fees for non-attending children. While the COSP is based on objective, verifiable data, it is acknowledged that some services may be deemed ineligible for COSP but face sustainability issues, e.g. if their normal fee level is higher than the average fee level for their county, or if their normal occupancy rate is much higher than the national average. Where a service is deemed ineligible for COSP but faces sustainability issues, the service may apply for support through the Sustainability Fund.
2nd February – Information on the new arrangements and their operational impact for service providers from 1 February to 5 March 2021
Below you will find information and resources to assist you with the new arrangements for services in affect as of 1st February 2021.
New funding arrangements
The new funding available to services from today was announced and can be viewed in the DCEDIY’s press release from Wednesday, 27th January,
Further breakdown of on the funding arrangements and conditions are available in the latest DCEDIY Provider FAQ, published on Friday, 29th January. See page 8-11 for the funding available based on different provider scenarios. Note this is version 2 of the FAQ. February Provider FAQs V.2 final
A list of payments made for the week of 29th January were listed in this announcement posted on PIP and Hive on Thursday, 28th January.
Services that have a declined Force Majeure application and/or services who have been contacted by Pobal to submit a Force Majeure application/additional information, and have not yet submitted it, will have had their Funding Agreement placed on hold and will not have received a payment last week.
Covid-19 Operating Support Payment (COSP)
In addition to the other supports available outlined in the FAQ, the Covid-19 Operating Support Payment (COSP) is intended to support services that are very reliant on parental fees to remain sustainable during the period of high level restrictions, while meeting the condition of not charging fees for families whose children are not attending the service.
The payment seeks to enable services to support parents by not charging fees for children who are not attending, regardless of whether non-attendance is because their parents are not essential workers or because their parents have chosen not to use ELC and SAC services at this time.
A notification has been issued to the PAU of all eligible services on the Early Years Hive. To view this on the Notifications page, expand the yellow arrow and select Open. Eligibility for COSP is determined based on a calculation designed to identify the services most reliant on parental fees. Please see question 12 of the Provider FAQ for information on eligibility and the calculation that was applied.
An application form is expected to be made available by 12 February which will enable providers formally agree to the terms and conditions.
You can see how COSP is calculated, an example and the conditions for payment here (COSP Calculation and Conditions) and for more information, see questions 11, 12, 13 of the Provider FAQ.
Key administrative points for the operation of programmes
ECCE-only services are to remain closed until 5th March, 2021. ECCE only services’ include services which provide ECCE with no more than 30 minutes of additional of childcare paid for by parents.
Open services / services closed with approved Force Majeure or HSE directed
Weekly attendance returns to be submitted as normal based on child attendance. In cases where a child cannot attend (due to current restrictions), weekly attendance records should be based on the week ending Sunday, 20 December 2020. Children in attendance should be recorded accordingly on the weekly attendance return on the Hive. Non-term weeks/hours (children receiving NCS and ECCE/school going children) can be used, where eligible, for children of essential workers and vulnerable children. For further information on adding non-term hours please see Adding Non Term Hours Quick Guide-Adding Non-Term Hours New applications for NCS remain open CCSP/TEC Saver Programmes
The Savers Management Window will remain open until the end of the 2020-21 programme year to allow providers to make any necessary amendments to registrations on CCSP/TEC 2020-2. Help and support
Providers can continue to contact the Early Years Provider Centre for queries relating to programme funding. However, we ask that you contact your CCC in the first instance regarding Covid-19 and service closures.
29th January 2021 -Updated Provider FAQ’s
Please see Updated FAQ’s (29th January) which was published by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.
Public health experts have confirmed that Early Learning and Care (ELC) and School Age Childcare (SAC) services may continue to operate during the current Level 5 restrictions. While no environment is without risk in relation to Covid-19, and this has been the case throughout the pandemic, services can significantly reduce their risk level by closely following the expert guidance provided by the HSE, which was prepared specifically for ELC and SAC services by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC).
On Tuesday 26 January, Government made the decision to extend the suspension of the ECCE programme and to continue to restrict access to other Early Learning and Childcare services to the children of essential workers and to vulnerable children. It is currently planned for these arrangements to be in place until 5 March, with the timeframe remaining subject to review in the context of the evolving public health circumstances.
Service Providers wishing to submit a force majeure application are asked to refer to questions 31 – 37 in the FAQ document issued by DCYA.FAQ Providers V2 – 12 Jan 2021
DCEDIY has directed that in addition to normal Force Majeure eligibility, Force Majeure will only be approved on the following two grounds in relation to the closure period:
Service Providers which are directed to close by public health, due to Covid-19 or other reasons. Evidence of formal instruction to close must be included with the application. Service Providers who cannot open because they have evidence that there is no demand for their service from essential workers and vulnerable children. Please note the following:
Service Providers who are closing due to no demand for the service from essential workers and vulnerable children must:
Contact all registered parents in their service advising them that the service is available for vulnerable children or children of essential workers. The responses from parents should be kept on file at your service.
Contact your local CCC to inform them that you intend to close.
Where there is no demand, write to all parents in the service advising them that the service is closed as there is no demand for the service from eligible children. A sample letter is available here.Sample Covid-19 Closure Letter to Parents
This letter should be submitted to Pobal along with a completed Force majeure application form.
Pobal cannot process requests for force majeure due to no demand unless a completed application form along with the letter issued to parents has been submitted.
Providers who have applied for Force Majeure before 14 January, i.e. in advance of the receipt of this guidance, do not have to re-submit their application, unless requested to do so by Pobal.
Force Majeure applications for lack of demand must be submitted on a weekly basis.
Service Providers who have more than one facility and propose closing one or more facilities, and moving the children in the closed facilities to their sister facilities:
Should only do so if it is convenient for parents
Should contact their CCC in the first instance and inform them if they intend to do so
Should not re register children in the new facilities. The old registrations can remain.
Must keep correct local attendance records for the open facility
Must submit a force majeure application for the closed services, ticking the ‘Covid closure – Full Service’ box on the application form and giving a brief explanation in the ‘additional information’ section.
Non-ECCE only services that close without an approved force majeure application will have their NCS, ECCE, CCSP and TEC funding withdrawn for the period 11 January to 31 January, including recoupment of any funding already made in advance.
Services are not required to submit a Force Majeure application form for the week commencing 4th January.
Please submit the Force Majeure application form to Pobal by attaching it to a Service Request on the Hive and entering ‘Force Majeure’ in the summary heading and selecting category ‘programme request’ from the drop down menu.
Update: 8th January
IMPORTANT: CHANGES TO ALL DCEDIY FUNDED PROGRAMMES DUE TO COVID 19 RESTRICTIONS UNTIL 1 FEBRUARY 2021
The information below details the changes under Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Funded Childcare Programmes following the announcement by Minister O’Gorman, as of Wednesday, 6 January 2021 in regards to further Level 5 restrictions and the Provider FAQ issued by the DCEDIY today. Early Learning and Care providers are advised to read the below information carefully to understand the implications for their individual service.
Sessional services offering ECCE only • ECCE only services to close fully – payments will continue until Friday, 29 January 2021. • ECCE calendar – no adjustment required. ‘ECCE only services’ include services which provide ECCE with no more than 30 minutes of additional of childcare paid for by parents.
Full or part-time services offering ECCE/NCS/AIM/Legacy (CCSP/TEC) Programmes Services that remain open for essential workers and vulnerable children – current levels of funding will continue until 29 January 2021.
NCS • Weekly attendance returns to be submitted as normal based on child attendance. In cases where a child cannot attend (due to current restrictions), weekly attendance records should be based on the week ending Sunday, 20 December 2020. • Children in attendance should be recorded accordingly on the weekly attendance return on the Hive. • Non-term weeks/hours (children receiving NCS and ECCE/school going children) can be used, where eligible, for children of essential workers and vulnerable children. For further information on adding non-term hours please see Adding Non Term Hours Quick Guide . • Please continue to maintain correct child attendance records for your service in line with Tusla Regulations and compliance. • Note changes cannot be made to NCS calendars retrospectively. • Any amendments to calendars will affect your budget.
Legacy (CCSP/TEC) • Services that are closed or close over the coming weeks and do not have an approved Force Majeure application must adjust their calendar to reflect the closed period. • Any amendments to calendars will affect your budget. • The Saver Management Window will remain open for any changes to existing registrations. • Please continue to maintain correct child attendance records for your service in line with Tusla Regulations and compliance.
ECCE (full or part-time services) • In the case where a full or part-time service remains closed, no adjustments are required to be made to the ECCE calendar and Pobal will make the budget adjustment. • Please continue to maintain correct child attendance records for your service in line with Tusla Regulations and compliance.
AIM • AIM Level 7 – 5% of the approved contract value will be paid on 8 January 2021 representing payment up to 29 January 2021. • The AIM Level 7 application process will remain open. Applications which are currently in progress or new applications will continue to be appraised; however, application outcomes cannot be finalized until the ECCE programme has recommenced.
Force Majeure Any service wishing to close must have an approved Force Majeure application form. Please submit this to Pobal by attaching it to a Service Request on Hive and entering ‘Force Majeure’ in the summary heading and selecting category ‘programme request’ from the drop down menu. • Only services that have received formal instruction to close and have an approved Force Majeure application in place can remain closed for the period of the Force Majeure. • Non-ECCE only services remaining closed without an approved Force Majeure application must amend their calendars to reflect the closed period, changes are only required from 11 January 2021. Any changes to calendars will affect your budgets. • In instances where Pobal are made aware of services that have remained closed without approved Force Majeure application, contracts will be placed on hold until calendars are amended to reflect the closed period.
We understand that this is a hugely challenging time for all Early Learning and Care services. Providers can continue to contact the Early Years Provider Centre for queries relating to programme funding. However, we ask that you contact your CCC in the first instance regarding COVID-19 and service closures.
Published on 8th January:
FAQs for Providers of Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare Services
Resumption of the pre-school programme postponed and childcare services to remain open for the children of essential workers and vulnerable children only, until 01 February
Following Cabinet approval this afternoon (06 January) of the introduction of additional measures under full level 5 restrictions, the Minister for Children, Disability, Equality, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman, T.D. has confirmed the following:
Resumption of the ECCE pre-school programme has been postponed until 1 February.
Other childcare services will remain open for the children of essential workers and vulnerable children only.
Childminders can also continue to provide care to the children of essential workers and vulnerable children.
A household of an essential worker, without an existing childcare arrangement, can form a bubble with another household for the purpose of providing childcare.
Government funding, including the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) as well Early Learning and Childcare schemes, continues to be available to these services in order to allow them to deliver care for children of essential workers and vulnerable children.
In light of the extensive financial supports that are available to the sector, Minister O’Gorman is asking that providers pause payment of fees or return fees paid in advance for parents who are not essential workers and therefore cannot access services between 11 – 31 January.
Speaking this afternoon, Minister O’Gorman said:
“Today’s decision has been taken after careful consideration to help to reduce movements in the community and tackle the spread of Covid.”
“NPHET’s advice is that childcare services are safe for both children and staff. However, to beat this virus we need to reduce movement, and that is why Cabinet has decided that childcare will be open only to essential workers and vulnerable children.”
“The Government is continuing to put significant funding into the childcare sector, in particular through the EWSS. In light of this level of State support, I am asking that services refund or credit fees for those parents who cannot access services.”
“I would like to pay tribute to childcare providers, childcare professionals, parents, staff and children. This is a difficult and uncertain time, and the sacrifices they are making are truly appreciated.”
Minister O’Gorman met with the Early Learning and Childcare COVID-19 Advisory Group earlier this afternoon to brief sectoral representatives on this matter. His Department will be issuing guidance to the sector and to parents tomorrow.
Notes to the Editor:
The list of essential services are set out in the ‘Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19’. The list can be found here.
The Department will provide further clarification tomorrow in an updated set of FAQs that will issue to the sector, as well as publishing FAQs for parents.
Guidance on prioritisation of childcare places – 1 January 2021
In line with restrictions announced on 30 December 2020 and the Plan for Living with COVID-19, early learning and care and school-age childcare services, including childminders, can continue to operate. While the resumption of the ECCE programme is delayed until 11 January 2021, non-ECCE programme provision (including full-day provision) can continue to operate, particularly to support priority groups and children of essential workers. A list of essential services at Level 5 is available at the following link: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/c9158-essential-services/
A range of effective protective measures have been in place in early learning and care and school-age childcare services since reopening in the summer and no additional protective measures are deemed necessary at this point in time. Staff and families are urged to continue to adhere strictly to public health guidance for the safe operation of services.
Given the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community, some services may be operating at reduced capacity due to unavailability of staff and the necessity to meet legislative adult child ratios. It is important to note that, as early learning and care and school-age childcare services are private businesses, the allocation of places is a matter for the service provider. This guidance is provided to help support providers in managing allocation of places in a situation where demand is greater than the supply available.
In the best interests of children and their families, children should, as far as possible, be enabled to remain in a service they have previously been attending. If a service has additional capacity, they may register new families who have not previously used the setting, either on a long-term or a short-term basis depending on the service’s capacity. If capacity is limited, services are asked to prioritise the children of health and social care workers and other frontline workers, where possible. Services are also encouraged to support: vulnerable children sponsored under the National Childcare Scheme; children funded through legacy DCEDIY schemes who are experiencing poverty, disadvantage or child welfare issues; and children with additional needs who were attending full or part time early learning and care and may benefit from immediate re-engagement with this services after the Christmas break.
This guidance will be reviewed in advance of 11 January 2021.
FAQ responses on public health and prioritisation – 1 January 2021
Q1: Is it safe to operate early learning and care and school-age childcare services at this time?
National public health experts have confirmed that it remains safe to continue operating ELC and SAC services. Service providers, staff and families are to be commended for the care with which they have been complying with public health guidance since reopening in June, and it remains essential that they continue doing so. A range of tip sheets and resource materials, including guidance specifically developed for ELC/SAC services by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) within the HSE, is available at https://first5.gov.ie/guidance
Q2: Are additional protective measures now required in ELC and SAC services? The HSE has confirmed on Dec 31 that there is no change to the public heath advice for early learning and care and school-age childcare settings, which services have been following effectively since reopening in June to allow for their safe operation. In following the guidance at this time, the HSE strongly recommends that providers, staff and families pay particular attention to two core areas: (i) Exposures and symptoms (as explained in HPSC guidance) within the family unit of each staff member and child over the past week / 10 days. It is crucial that if anyone within the family unit (however extended that may have been over the recent Christmas period) has any symptoms that could be consistent with COVID-19 that they self-isolate and contact their GP for testing. Anyone within that close exposure network should restrict their movements until the result is known. Young children should not under these circumstances be attending any ELC or SAC facility. Further, if a young child has any symptoms that are evolving or uncertain, there should now be a clear precautionary approach and they should not attend an ELC or SAC facility.
The HPSC guidance for symptoms and isolation requirements are available here, https://www.hpsc.ie/a-z/respiratory/coronavirus/novelcoronavirus/guidance/childcareguidance/Isolation%20quick%20guide%20u13s.pdf and we would ask that all families and staff members attend to these and apply them in a precautionary manner. We ask that all early learning and childcare settings themselves are clear on symptoms of concern for their staff or children and that all are clear on the isolation requirements in place, and that families are aware of the precautionary approach and low threshold being applied to ensure the safe continued opening of all facilities.
Particular focus should apply to break times, staff rooms etc. and ensuring strict social distancing is in place, with face-coverings worn by staff at these times and a focus on hand and respiratory hygiene. We ask that all staff and families pay very careful attention to national public health advice and recommendations, for the safety and wellbeing of all.
Q3: Is the public health guidance for school-age childcare different from the guidance for early learning and care? The same public health guidance applies to early learning and care settings and to school-age childcare settings.
Q4: What happens if there are suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 among staff or children in my setting? As you will be aware, the HSE has put in place specific arrangements for COVID-19 testing in schools, ELC and SAC services. The HSE reports that this Public Health Pathway has proved effective since its introduction in August. HSE Public Health teams for Schools and Childcare Facilities remain in place and will clearly be focussed on responding to ELC and SAC settings.
As you will be aware, the HSE has put in place specific arrangements for COVID-19 testing in schools, ELC and SAC services. The HSE reports that this Public Health Pathway has proved effective since its introduction in August. HSE Public Health teams for Schools and Childcare Facilities remain in place and will clearly be focussed on responding to ELC and SAC settings.
Not all confirmed cases will require Public Health engagement with the service – for example if a case was not determined to be in the service during the infectious period, there may be no actions required.
Departments of Public Health will contact services where a confirmed case is notified to them that may have implications for the service (e.g. the case was in the service during the infectious period and there is a risk of spread in the service). This will usually be the same day Departments are notified, but may occasionally be the next day.
Q5. Do I need to shut my service if a staff member or child is suspected to have COVID-19?
If a child/staff member in your setting is displaying symptoms of COVID-19 they should leave or be collected from the service immediately. They or their parents/guardians should be advised to contact their doctor. Their doctor will arrange testing for them if they need it.
If they test positive for COVID-19, the childcare setting will be contacted by local public health staff to discuss the case, identify people who have been in contact with them and advise on any actions or precautions that should be taken.
It is not necessary to take any action in relation to closing your service, partially or in full, until you have been contacted by and discussed the case with local public health staff.
You should follow the advice set out in the HPSC’s “Infection Prevention and Control guidance for settings providing childcare during the COVID-19 Pandemic” in relation to cleaning rooms/settings where there was a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19. If a room is closed temporarily for 3 cleaning and no other room is available, the staff/children using that room may have to leave the setting until the room is available again.
Q6: Will my funding continue if I have to close a Pod?
In the situation where the HSE has directed the service provider to close a Pod, the normal attendance rules apply where the Department will continue to fund for up to four weeks for that closure.
Q7: Will my funding continue if I have to close my service completely?
In the situation where the HSE has directed the service provider to close completely, the Department will approve force majeure. In circumstances where the closure order is solely related to a particular service provider and is not issued on a national or regional level, the Department will continue to fund that service while their force majeure is activated.
Q8: Will I lose ECCE funding if I am closed in the week of 4 to 8 January?
Funding for the ECCE programme will be paid in accordance with the funding calendar. If services are unable to make up the time later in the year, they will not be penalised, the funding they receive for the week 4 to 8 January will not be recouped.
Q9: Will I lose NCS or legacy scheme funding if children do not attend in early January?
Children may be absent from early learning and childcare services for at least 4 weeks without any change in subsidy levels. Funding under the NCS and legacy schemes will be paid to providers in accordance with the payment calendars. Providers are reminded to submit their NCS attendance returns on the Hive, as that return is the trigger for their NCS payment.
Q10: What restrictions apply if someone returns from travel overseas?
The travel advice notes that ‘Those who intend travelling should be aware that individual workplaces, schools, childcare facilities and colleges in Ireland can apply their own health and safety measures. Intending travellers, as well as parents/guardians, should familiarise themselves with these requirements before booking any travel.’
Q11: Which children are allowed to attend an ELC or SAC setting at this time?
In line with restrictions announced on 30 December 2020 and the Plan for Living with COVID-19, early learning and care and school-age childcare services, including childminders, can continue to operate. While the resumption of the ECCE programme is delayed until 11 January 2021, non-ECCE programme provision (including full-day provision) can continue to operate, particularly to support priority groups and children of essential workers. A list of essential services at Level 5 is available here.https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/c9158-essential-services/
A range of effective protective measures have been in place in early learning and care and school-age childcare services since reopening in the summer and no additional protective measures are deemed necessary at this point in time. Staff and families are urged to continue to adhere strictly to public health guidance for the safe operation of services. 4
Given the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community, some services may be operating at reduced capacity due to unavailability of staff and the necessity to meet legislative adult child ratios. It is important to note that, as early learning and care and school-age childcare services are private businesses, the allocation of places is a matter for the service provider. This guidance is provided to help support providers in managing allocation of places in a situation where demand is greater than the supply available.
In the best interests of children and their families, children should, as far as possible, be enabled to remain in a service they have previously been attending. If a service has additional capacity, they may register new families who have not previously used the setting, either on a long-term or a short-term basis depending on the service’s capacity.
If capacity is limited, services are asked to prioritise the children of health and social care workers and other frontline workers, where possible.
Services are also encouraged to support:
vulnerable children sponsored under the National Childcare Scheme;
children funded through legacy DCEDIY schemes who are experiencing poverty, disadvantage or child welfare issues; and
children with additional needs who were attending full or part time early learning and care and may benefit from immediate re-engagement with this services after the Christmas break.
This guidance will be reviewed in advance of 11 January 2021.
2nd October 2020 – COVID-19 Sustainability Support Fund – Application Guidelines
The purpose of the COVID-19 Sustainability Support grant is to support the sustainability of Early Learning and Care (ELC) and School Age Childcare (SAC) services whose viability is negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, by providing funding to offset losses caused by a decrease in occupancy and/or an increase in costs. Sustainability will be supported by providing a grant proportionate to the short-term level of loss in 2020 that the service has demonstrated through the information provided on the application form.
The COVID-19 Sustainability Support grant recognises that the cost of delivering services for ELC and SAC providers may be higher due to adherence to public health guidelines and combined with the financial impact of lower occupancy may result in some services becoming temporarily financially unsustainable. This grant will ensure that services remain open without increasing their Registered Fees to parents or guardians.
23rd September: Changes to HSE Covid-19 Assessment Testing and Management Pathway Document
Please note that we have been advised by the HSE of some changes to their assessment testing and management pathway documents. The changes are:
The self-isolation period for cases of COVID-19 has now changed from 14 days to a minimum of 10 days, the last 5 of which should be free of fever
Nasal swabs are now listed as an acceptable specimen type for use when testing children
For the households of all patients (adults and children) with symptoms who are being tested for COVID-19, the whole household must restrict movements until the results of the test are know
For those aged over 13 years who have some respiratory tract infection symptoms but who but do not fit the criteria for testing for COVID-19, patients are now advised to stay at home and self-isolate for a minimum of 48 hours from the resolution of symptoms. (This is a reduction from the 14 days in the previous version)
If a child with COVID-19 cannot be isolated at home and there is an ongoing exposure risk, household contacts should restrict movements for 17 days from the onset of symptoms in the case (or date of test if the confirmed case was asymptomatic).
Guidance for the Early Learning and Care (ELC) and School Age Childcare (SAC) sector will be amended, as required, to reflect the changes outlined above.
Please also be aware that the Department continues to engage with the HSE and the Department of Education and Skills to ensure that the approaches to management of Covid-19 in the Early Learning and Care (ELC) and School Age Childcare (SAC) sector are aligned to that of the schools. There is currently no automatic rapid testing in place for either sector. Local public health departments will decide on a case by case basis how testing should be conducted.
26th June –
The Department of Children and Youth Affairs is very conscious of the stress and additional burden the closure period and preparations for re-opening have put on you as providers but also on your staff and the parents and children who use your service. We have endeavoured throughout this period to assist you, initially in sustaining your service through the closure period and, more recently, in making preparations for reopening. You will already be familiar with the extensive guidance and support material available to you through the First 5 Website.
In acknowledgement of the current pressures, and the need to work within public health advice, both the Tusla Early Years Inspectorate and the Department of Education and Skills Inspectorate are providing an update on how they intend to work with services who are opening from June 29th onwards.
In line with the agreement to coordinate and streamline communications to the sector on inspection processes, announced by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs in January, attached here are communications from the two inspectorates, which have also been published today on the websites of the two bodies.
In addition to previous guidance issued (available on the DCYA and Tusla websites) and in order to assist providers, both Inspectorates have provided new documentation to explain their approach to inspections in the coming weeks and months. You will find that documentation attached here, including:
Department of Education and Skills Circular on Inspection of ELC Services in 2020/2021 – English & Irish version cl0042_2020
If you have any specific queries on the content of the attached documents or the conduct of inspections, please make contact with the relevant inspectorate.
Pobal CAR/the Department of Children and Youth Affairs will provide an update to providers in the coming weeks on resumption of compliance visits.
23rd June – Capital Guidelines
On 10 June 2020, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs announced a major funding package to facilitate the reopening of early learning and care (ELC) and school-age childcare (SAC) services. In accordance with the Government Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business, and guided by the expert advice of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSPC), ELC and SAC services can begin to resume from 29th June, 2020. The purpose of the COVID-19 Capital Grant (€14.2m) is to contribute towards the capital costs associated with the reopening of Early Learning and Care (ELC) and School Age Childcare (SAC) Services because of the easing of some of the government restrictions imposed as a result of the pandemic.
23rd June – Annual Early Years Service Profile 2017/2018 – DEADLINE: 5pm Friday 26th June
The deadline for submitting this year’s Early Years Service Profile is 5pm, Friday 26th June.
This year’s survey will be essential for helping Government understand the impacts of COVID-19 on the early years sector. Now more than ever, it is essential that planning and investment are informed by real, on-the-ground data and that services continue to have a voice in Government decision-making. We are very grateful for your participation during this challenging time.
Where can I access the survey?
On PIP: Under My Services, click on View details for relevant DCYA Ref (if more than one service). Under Service Details, on right hand side of the page, click Service Profile Survey
On EYP: On the Early Years Portal homepage, click Service Profile Survey on the right side of the page.
Are guidelines available for filling out the form?
You can also find these guidelines and a list of FAQs in the How to Guides section in PIP Resources or on Hive in the survey launch announcement.
Who do we contact for help?
If your service has any questions about the Early Years Service Profile, please contact the Early Years Provider Centre at EYPC@pobal.ie.
22nd June – TWSCS Application Form Amendment Window and Payments Breakdown
As per the DCYA winding down notice last week, the TWSCS will be ending on 28th June. The closing date to submit a Funding Agreement is Friday, June 26th and the closing date for applications is 1st July with final payments being made on week ending 10th July up until 17th July.
In advance of this, please be aware that the following will be available to services on the Early Years Hive as of today.
TWSCS application amendments
Those who need to make changes to a previously submitted/calculated TWSCS application form can do so from today (22nd June) until 5pm on 30th June. Examples of changes that can now be made include:
Viewing employees’ information
Editing employees’ information
Removing employees’ information
Adding new employees
Updating services’ average gross weekly payroll figure – as per original guidance, providers were requested to divide the total gross pay value by 9 for all childcare staff for January and February.
Please see the accompanying Amending a TWSCS Application Form + Viewing Payment Calculation Guide guidance document for detailed instruction on how to make such amendments. It is very important to review this document first before making changes, to ensure the correct steps are being taking for the each task and to ensure the application is resubmitted correctly.
If there is no issue with your application, it is not necessary to make any changes and resubmit the form. Please note that any changes made to a TWSCS application may impact funding received from the scheme.
TWSCS payment calculations
Services will now be able to view a breakdown of their TWSCS payment calculations on the Early Years Hive. To view this, navigate to the Resources tab and then go to Wage Subsidy Scheme (Payments) on the dropdown. Please see the above mentioned document for further guidance on this page.
Most services will be able to view the details of their payment calculations on this page. Providers whose submitted application information was queried, a preliminary payment was made and their payment calculations will be available here at a later date, however they can see their payment values on PIP in the interim.
Note: the calculations displayed on this page will not yet include the final week of the scheme (starting 22nd June). Services should review this page after final payments have been made to view final calculations. We are aware of some issues with April calculations, rest assured that this will also be fixed for the final calculation.
If you have any queries, please contact the Early Years Provider Centre at email@example.com or raise a service request on the Early Years Hive.
15th June – The Early Years Service Profile 2019/20 is now LIVE on the PIP and Hive portals
The 2019/2020 Early Years Service Profile is the primary data source on the Irish early learning and care and school-age childcare sector. It is developed and published by Pobal on behalf of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.
The Annual Early Years Service Profile, which has been running for over 17 years, plays a central role in informing policy development and assessing the impact of policy change. It provides comprehensive national analysis of over 4,500 early learning and care and school-age childcare services throughout Ireland on key issues, such as capacity, staff and costs.
The continuation of this survey in 2020 is more important than ever given the challenges COVID-19 have presented for this sector, and the information you provide will be essential for future policy development as well as short term emergency planning. It will also ensure that we maintain an accurate, up-to-date and evidence-based profile of the early learning and care and school-age childcare sector in Ireland, and that we can capture a profile of services before the COVID-19 closures in March. This means that, in time, when the survey rolls out again, we can objectively assess the impact of COVID-19 on individual services and on the sector as a whole.
This survey covers the period up to the closure of early learning and care and school-age childcare services on 12th March 2020. All responses (including staff details, wages and fees) should therefore reflect how the service was operating up to this date.
Pobal and the DCYA appreciate you taking the time to complete this survey, which has been shortened this year to include only the most critical information needed for Government policy and planning. We understand that the sector is experiencing unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19, and that their focus is placed on working towards the phased reopening of services in line with the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business. We also acknowledge and sincerely thank the services for their participation in the recent survey, which was rolled out to inform plans on reopening.
About the survey
This annual survey is developed and published by Pobal on behalf of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. The content of the survey is also informed by a stakeholder consultation, which was conducted in partnership with the Early Years Forum.
The data collected will allow for in-depth analysis of the sector across a range of headings including:
Service detail and provision
Capacity and attendance
Staffing (numbers, qualifications, staffing retention, level of turnover etc.)
By providing the most up-to-date national data on the sector, we are able to support a range of key stakeholders in their planning and analysis. For instance, data may be shared with:
Government Departments (e.g. Department of Education and Skills, Early Years Inspectorate)
Organisations conducting research and analysis on behalf of Government Departments
Statutory agencies (e.g. Túsla Early Years Inspectorate)
Better Start Early Years Specialist Service
City/County Childcare Committees
Local Authorities (to inform local planning and development priorities)
Summary data will also be provided to the following organisations for research and statistical purposes:
Voluntary Childcare Organisations
Central Statistics Office
Third Level Institutions
Data from this survey may also be combined with findings from other surveys of the early learning and care and school-age childcare sector conducted on behalf of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.
We have made every effort to keep the survey concise and relevant. Only questions that relate to key policy and planning priorities are included in the survey.
Completing the Survey:
A service profile should be completed for each facility i.e. one for each DCYA reference number.
How long will it take to complete the service profile?
The length of time it takes to complete the survey depends on the size of the service, the number of staff and number of children enrolled. It is expected to take approximately one hour. The survey will save so you can complete it in more than one sitting before final submission.
Why does the survey look different to previous years?
This year’s survey was developed on a new platform and so the layout and format of some questions has been changed.
Can I complete the service profile through Irish?
Based on feedback from the sector, we had intended to offer the service profile through Irish this year. This unfortunately has not been possible due to resource constraints arising from COVID-19. Pobal and the DCYA continue to work towards this goal for future years.
When is it due?
The deadline for completing the survey is 5pm, Friday 26th June.
Who can we contact for assistance?
If you experience any difficulties accessing or completing this survey, please contact the Early Years Provider Centre at EYPC@pobal.ie. While we are unable to accept calls at the moment due to COVID-19 constraints, we can arrange a call back for you at a time that suits
Early Years Team
15th June 2020 – Letter from Early Years Division
Please see attached letter from Early Years Division in relation to the winding down of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme (TWSCS) following the planned reopening of the childcare sector on June 29 that issued to ELC & SAC providers today, for your information.
The Government has provided a substantial funding package, with supports for reopening costs, wage costs, and capital costs alongside the resumption of ELC and SAC subsidy schemes. The funding recognises the important role that the ELC and SAC sector plays in the economic and societal infrastructure of the country.
The attached FAQs are intended to provide clarity on how this funding package will work. These FAQs aim to be informative but may be added to and/or amended as more information becomes available. The Department will also be keeping track of any queries we receive and clarify any areas of uncertainty in an updated FAQ if necessary.
As always, your local CCCs will be available to offer support. Please do not hesitate to contact them if you require assistance with interpreting or applying for any element of the new funding package.
Early Years Division.
10th June – Press Release DCYA
Please see the below Press Release from Minister Katherine Zappone announcing a funding package of €75m for Reopening Early Learning and Childcare Services from 29 June
9th June – Access and Inclusion Model, (AIM) programme for 2020/2021 is now open
Access and Inclusion Model (AIM)
The Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) provides a range of supports to enable children with a disability to meaningfully participate in the ECCE preschool programme (www.aim.gov.ie). Parents/carers/legal guardians and preschool providers make AIM applications jointly, through an on-line system.
New Application for AIM 2020/21
New applications for Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) support for 2020/21 are now open. Please note, although the AIM application system is open and in light of public health guidance, the delivery of AIM supports are dependent on the timing and nature of the re-opening of the ECCE programme for 2020/21. Further detail on this will be made available by the DCYA in due course.
If your child is due to start the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme in September 2020 please contact the preschool that your child will attend. The pre-school provider in partnership with you as the parent/carer/legal guardian can consider and apply for one or more targeted supports under Levels 4-7 of the model. You can find more information about the targeted supports under the AIM Programme at https://aim.gov.ie/for-parents/
If your child is currently availing of AIM supports and is moving to another pre-school in September 2020/21 a new AIM application will need to be submitted to the new pre-school provider.
In light of the Covid-19 restrictions, a number of adaptations to the AIM application process have been made to allow applications to be processed during this time. The application process will outline this and your pre-school provider will be able to talk you through these adaptations.
All service providers offering the ECCE Programme for the 2020-2021 programme year must complete every step of the on boarding process on the Hive before they can begin the ECCE readiness process. This means that each service provider must have an Early Years Hive account. Quick Guides and videos are available on the Early Years Hive to assist services with this process.
Once the on-boarding process is completed, Service Providers must also complete the ECCE specific readiness steps before a programme application can be submitted. A Quick Guide on completing the ECCE readiness steps is available https://earlyyearshive.ncs.gov.ie/useful-links/for assistance with this process. A separate Quick Guide is available to assist you with completing the ECCE Fees List and Service Calendars on the Early Years Hive.
DCYA ECCE Programme Rules for 2020/21 will be made available shortly.
Early Years Team
5th June – DCYA Announcement regarding the launch of a range of online resources and guidance to support service provider
Some resources are already published, and others will be added in the coming days and weeks. The web-page will be regularly updated, so please check back. Irish-language resources will be available in the coming days.
Acknowledging that sometimes the volume of information available can feel overwhelming and hard to manage, the new webpage aims to make it easy for you to navigate and find the information and guidance you need.
The Department would like to thank the many organisations that have developed and given advice on these resources and guidance. The webpage notes some resources that are still being developed and will be available soon. If there is further guidance you feel you need, please let us know through your representative organisation or local City/County Childcare Committee.
5th June – Extension of DCYA Provider Survey: Update 5th June 2020
The completion date for the DCYA Provider Survey has been extended to close of business Wednesday, 10th June. For those Early Learning and Care Providers who have not completed the survey, a link to the survey will be sent by email, together with a guidance note, in time for completion by Wednesday the 10th of June.
A draft text copy of the survey is attached below please note this copy is for information only and cannot be submitted.
Please be aware that this week’s payments have been made to all services who submitted the TWSCS funding agreement and an application form by Tuesday, 2nd June.
Applications ‘In Review’
Any providers whose applications are still in review will receive a further preliminary payment for one week. These providers can still make changes to the application form. Please refer to Step 6 – Reviewing a submitted Application Form on how to edit and resubmit the form in the Application Guidance Document.
Any providers whose applications have been calculated will receive payments based on the information in the application form, and should receive a further two weeks payment to 19th June. Preliminary payments paid to date will have been reconciled against the actual payment due. Where an overpayment is identified in this reconciliation, no payment will be issued this week. If your application has a status of ‘Calculated’ on the Early Years Hive then changes cannot be made until a later date, which will be communicated in due course.
A payment breakdown view will be available for service providers on the Early Years Hive at the end of June.
If you have any queries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or raise a service request on the Hive.
3rd June – Press Release from DCYA
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’
2nd June – The AIM 2020/2021 programme year is now open for new applicants.
The AIM 2020/2021 programme year is now open for new applicants. Application forms are accessible via the AIM tab on the PIP portal.
Please note, although the AIM application system is open, in light of public health guidance, the delivery of AIM supports are dependent onthe timing and nature of the re-opening of the ECCE programme for 2020/21. Further detail on this will be made available by the DCYA in due course.
Also, any AIM support awarded for the 2020/2021 pre-school year will be subject to the childcare service re-opening and the participation of the child or children in pre-school.
Due to current Covid 19 restrictions, a number of temporary changes are being implemented to facilitate the submission and processing of AIM applications. Further information on these changes are available here, please read this document carefully before submitting an application.
Applicants should apply as early as possible to ensure that the relevant supports are in place when required.
If you require assistance, please contact the Early Years Provider Centre at email@example.com.
29th May – Press release from Minister Katherine Zappone
Please see the below press release from Minister Katherine Zappone announcing decisions and guidance to support the reopening of childcare services
On Friday 17th April, to assist with any cash flow difficulties being experienced by services due to COVID-19, the DCYA released an advance payment of one third of the Programme Support Payment (PSP) that services were scheduled to receive in June 2020.
This payment together with the remaining two-thirds are subject to the terms and conditions outlined in the PSP application form.
In order to receive the remaining two-thirds and retain the one third already paid to services, the application form must be completed and submitted by Friday 12 June 2020.
Late applications will not be accepted
If a service does not wish to apply, then the advance payment must be returned. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to make arrangements to return the payment.
Calculation of PSP 2019/2020 (included in announcement of advance payment 15/04/2020)
The PSP for this programme cycle involves a new calculation to include the National Childcare Scheme (NCS) which is being brought into the PSP along with ECCE, CCSP and TEC. The total amount available to providers for 2020, payable this year, remains the same as last year at €19.4m, however, funding for individual providers and registrations may differ from previous years.
PSP is calculated based on a period in time referred to as the “snapshot” period. A number of different snapshot periods during the programme year have been used to calculate PSP since it was introduced in June 2017. This year, December 2019 was selected as an equitable point on which to base the ECCE, CCSP and TEC 2020 PSP payment and March 2020 was the base used for NCS, reflecting that it was a new scheme only introduced in November. PSP is calculated as equal to 7 days’ (1.4 weeks’) registrations for ECCE at Standard Capitation, 1 week for NCS, and 12.5 days’ (2.5 weeks’) registrations for CCSP and TEC, in respect of the 2019/20 programme cycle.
Note: You will receive a separate PSP payment relative to each contract, it will not be a combined single payment. Your provider portal and the remittance advice you receive will include a description of each payment.
26th May – Message & Survey from EY Division for services that normally close over the summer
Further to our recent correspondence concerning upcoming provider surveys, please find attached here the survey questions for early learning and care and school-age childcare providers usually closed in July and August. This survey will be administered by phone with the support of Pobal and Better Start. Calls to providers that normally close in July and August will begin later this week. In order to support providers to gather the information they may need to participate in this survey, a copy of the survey is attached. Providers that cannot be reached by phone will be sent a link to the survey for self-completion.
In addition, with the purpose of obtaining the views of the sector on the re-opening of services, the Department has opened a Call for Submissions. The Call for Submissions opened today (26 May) and will remain open until 5 June. The Call for Submission form can be accessed through the following link https://ec.europa.eu/eusurvey/runner/SectorConsult.
The information from this survey and the call for submissions will provide the Department with important and up to date information regarding services and will inform re-opening plans. Therefore, your participation is strongly encouraged and appreciated.
The Minister and the Department will meet with the Advisory Group again later today and it is expected further updates will be circulated following this meeting.
19th May – FAR training and the Covid-19 restrictions
We have received the following update from Tusla regarding FAR training:
The First Aid Responder (FAR) Education and Training Standard established by the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC) is recognised by Tusla as the first aid course for children that meets the regulatory requirement. In an early years setting the number of people required to be trained in first aid for children (FAR) and that are available for first aid response is based on the service’s risk assessments, including the size of the service and the hazards identified.
Currently where a service provides evidence that a person(s) is trained in First Aid for children and is available to children at all times the regulatory requirement is deemed to have been met by the Tusla Early Years Inspectorate. Prior to the COVID -19 pandemic this was to continue to be acceptable until the 31st May 2020. The regulatory requirement was due to change from the 1st of June 2020. The change required is that at least one person(s) is to have had undertaken the FAR (First Aid Response) course delivered by a trainer approved by PHECC to be available to children at all times in a service.
Due to the on-going pandemic, Tusla and Dept. of Children and Youth Affairs have agreed to extend the timeframe to meet this regulatory requirement to the end of February 2021.
In addition, for those staff that already have FAR certification which has now expired or is due to expire – their certificates will remain valid until courses are up and running again.
The DCYA had committed to providing a subsidy for the training of one staff member, per childcare service. This was supposed to have finished by the original deadline of 1 June 2020. In light of Tusla’s statement, the DCYA are extending the subsidy eligibility to the end of 2020.
Owing to the current Covid-19 restrictions, PHECC have agreed that the theory part of the FAR training course can be delivered as an online component. PHECC have stipulated that the online theory training will be:
For the short term only and will be limited to the duration of the current Covid-19 situation.
Does not replace the whole course, is for FAR theory only.
Full certification cannot come from this part of the training.
Practical’s and assessment should be on hold until the current Covid-19 situation is over.
The online session must be live and the trainer must ensure that they can document that participants engaged fully.
There will be a limit of participants to 8 as in the face-to-face course
Such a significant departure from normal standards shall be limited to the duration of the current Covid-19 crisis.
Things to consider
Before undertaking online FAR theory training Childcare Providers should ensure the following:
That the company offering the online training can provide an interim certificate/letter as proof of completion of online theory training
That the company you choose to do the online training with will also be able to offer the practical part of the course as well as the assessment in a place and at a time that will suit you
There is no obligation to undertake online training, services can opt to wait until the face-to-face courses are being offered and undertake the training in the normal way. However, the subsidy will only be available until the end of 2020 (see payment schedule on application form).
Claiming the partial subsidy:
On completion of the online theory training, services can apply for a maximum of €150 which represents 2/3 of the total subsidy or 2/3 of what you paid for the course, whichever is the lesser by completing the attached application form and submitting along with a receipt and a certificate/letter confirming that the participant has undertaken the full online theory course. On completion of the practical part of the course, the provider can apply for the remaining €75 by submitting their certificate.
18th May – Press Release
Dr. Katherine Zappone, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, chaired the second meeting of the ‘Advisory Group on Reopening Early Learning and Care and School-Age Childcare services’ on Friday (15 May 2020).
15th May – Update: Application Form for Temporary Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme (TWSCS)
Dear Service Provider,
Please see important information regarding the TWSCS application form below.
Employee ID number
An important change has been made to the TWSCS application form. Services completing the form are now asked to provide a unique 3 digit number only for the employee ID number for each of their staff and are no longer required to include the DCYA reference.
We would like to advise when calculating the gross weekly payroll costs, multi-service organisations can either:
Select a single service and enter the total payroll costs for the organisation, or
Input the payroll costs for each service individually.
Guidance documents have also been updated to reflect this change.
Payments will be made to all services who have correctly submitted the application form by 1pm on Tuesday, 19th May.
Those who have not submitted the application form will not receive payment.
The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone today announced, with regret, that the Temporary Childcare Scheme for Essential Health Workers will not proceed on the 18 May as planned. The scheme was launched last Thursday with a call to childcare services to volunteer to provide childcare for health workers in their homes. Unfortunately, uptake for the scheme among childcare providers has been much lower than was hoped, with only six providers applying to join the scheme so far. It has become clear that the low uptake is unlikely to change.
The Scheme was designed in response to a request from the Department of Health and the HSE to put emergency childcare in place for essential health workers. In developing a scheme that satisfies public health requirements, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs worked closely with public health officials and colleagues across Government, and took on board feedback from the sector in relation to the operation of such a scheme.
A variety of reasons have been put forward for the low sign-up rate. These include availability of insurance cover, concerns about possible virus transmission, difficulties in meeting employer responsibilities in relation to breaks and rest periods, and concerns about a lack of protection for staff working alone. The Department was always conscious of the fact that the 27,000 workforce consisted predominantly of women, many of whom had their own parental and caring responsibilities and some of whom had underlying health conditions. However, it had hoped that sufficient numbers would come forward to enable the scheme to operate.
The scheme that was announced involved childcare practitioners working on an outreach basis in the homes of health workers, with childcare providers and their staff being paid for the service. The funding allowed for payment of an average wage of €15 per hour for childcare practitioners, in addition to associated employer costs, as well as a management overhead to provide for supervision and support. Guidance, developed in collaboration with the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) in the HSE, was made available to providers on how to meet public health advice.
The Minister noted that the challenge of introducing childcare provision at this time is a difficult one given the important public health restrictions in place. While the home based approach met public health requirements, the provision of this type of model raised other difficulties, and the sector were concerned generally about potential health impacts amidst continued strict social distancing rules.
It was a temporary response in an emergency situation which required participants to operate outside of their normal environments.
The Minister acknowledged the efforts both within her own Department and externally to get the scheme up and running. She had sincerely hoped that it would be possible to deliver such a scheme successfully and so ease some of the burden on our frontline health workers. Unfortunately this has not proved to be the case.
The Minister noted that her Department remains strongly focused on developing solutions to the significant challenges of a phased reopening of early learning and childcare facilities for 29 June in line with the Government’s Roadmap on Reopening Society and Business.
The Department of Children and Youth Affairs will continue to work with Government colleagues, public health officials and the childcare sector, and to this end the Minister had very constructive engagement this afternoon (13 May) with a number of representatives of providers and staff.
13th May 2020 – AIM Update
The process for new applications for AIM Levels 4, 5 and 7 has not yet opened. A further announcement in relation to the above will be made soon.
The application process for AIM Level 7 2nd year extensions is currently open. Please note, 2nd year extensions should be submitted as early as possible to ensure that the relevant supports are in place for September.
Early Years Team
Update: Phase 2 of DCYA Temporary Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme (TWSCS) now open for applications
The TWSCS application form is now live on the Early Years Hive.
Completion of the application form is mandatory and is a condition of the TWSCS Funding Agreement. The deadline for completing the form is 1 July.
All services must have an account set up on the Early Years Hive and will need to use their username and password to log in and access the form. Any service provider who has forgotten their password or need support in setting up their account should contact EYPC@pobal.ie.
The next scheduled payment of 22 May will be made only to services who have completed and submitted a Funding Agreement and application by 1pm Tuesday 19 May.
8th May 2020 – Phase 2 of the TWSCS will go live on Monday, 11th May.
Phase 2 comprises an application form which will be available to complete and submit on the Early Years Hive.
All services must have an account set up on the Hive and will need to use their username and password to log in and access the form. Invitation links have been sent to the PAU of any organisation who has not previously registered on the Early Years Hive but has accepted the terms and conditions of the Funding Agreement. Service providers do not need to complete all readiness steps or activate an NCS contract in order to submit this application form.
The PAU will be required to complete a number of questions for each employee per facility, including information on their pre-COVID-19 Average Revenue Net Weekly Pay (ARNWP).
Completion of the application form is mandatory and is a condition of the TWSCS Funding Agreement and the deadline for completing the form is 1 July.
Funding Agreement closing date – 10 June (or 1 week in advance of the Revenue TWSS closing)
Application form opening date – 11 May and closing date – 1 July
The next scheduled payment of 22 May will be made only to services who have completed and submitted a Funding Agreement and application by 1pm Tuesday 19 May.
These payments will be based on information provided in the application form. The payment amounts calculated will be reconciled with any preliminary payments already made, and a payment will be made, if due, on 22 May. If an overpayment has occurred, no payment will be issued and it will roll over and be reconciled against next payment due on 5 June. If an overpayment still exists, this will be reconciled against future payments under ELC and SAC programmes (ECCE, AIM, NCS, CCSP, TEC).
An announcement will be posted on Monday, 11 May on the PIP Portal with a step-by-step application guide for completing the form.
8th May 2020 – Important: TCSEHW Volunteer Application Form Version 2
Please be advised that an important update has been made to the Volunteer Application Form ver. 2 – 08.05.2020 for the Temporary Childcare Scheme for Essential Health Workers (TCSEHW). The version now found in PIP Resources is version 2 and replaces the previous version.
We kindly ask that any services in the process of completing and/or submitting the form do so with the latest version.
We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused.
Early Years Team
8th May 2020 – Update: Temporary Childcare Scheme for Essential Health Workers
Further to yesterday’s announcement on TCSEHW, please find the letter from Assistant Secretary Bernie McNally to service providers relating to the introduction of the new Scheme Here
Please also find the Temporary Childcare Scheme for Essential Health Workers: TCSEHW Factsheet – 08.05.2020 which contains a summary of the main points of the Scheme for your benefit.
7th May 2020 – Letter, Press Release, FAQs & an Outreach pack from the DCYA regarding the Temporary Childcare Scheme for Essential Health Workers (TCSEHW)
along with a DCYA outreach pack relating to the introduction of the new Temporary Childcare Scheme for Essential Health Workers (TCSEHW) Outreach Pack TCSEHW May 7
7th May 2020 –Minister Zappone announces plan to provide childcare for essential health workers
The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, today announced new, emergency measures to support essential health workers who are having difficulty meeting their childcare needs. This forms part of Phase 1 of the Government’s Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business.
The service will be limited to parents / guardians defined as essential health workers during the Covid emergency.
The delivery of childcare services to this group follows Government plans to lift restrictions gradually and in line with public health advice and recommendations. The scheme is designed to protect children, their families and the childcare practitioners who will offer this new service.
Existing, registered childcare services will be asked to consider signing up for the service and opening as an outreach hub. They will be asked to support essential healthcare workers by offering childcare in those families’ homes. Childcare services which can fulfil this need will be requested to respond to a letter that the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) will issue to every service in the country today. Only Tusla-registered services will be allowed to participate. All staff taking part will be experienced early learning and care or school-age childcare practitioners who have been Garda vetted.
A number of early learning and care and school-age childcare services have already indicated their willingness to support vital health staff. Pobal, which will assist DCYA with the administration of the new initiative, may focus initially on larger full-day services, but all services are being asked to consider signing up for the scheme.
The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs has acknowledged that many childcare practitioners will not be available to take part due to their own parenting or caring responsibilities, but she asked that those who are in a position to contribute to this element of Ireland’s emergency call, would consider doing so.
The Government will make additional funding available to services that reopen to provide the service and details regarding this will be published in briefing material to be shared with providers today. In addition, there will be a low, flat-rate fee for parents who benefit from the new scheme.
In responding to the request to make childcare services available, Minister Zappone said:
“In these difficult and unprecedented times, we are all being asked to play our part. The early learning and care and school-age childcare sector has already indicated its willingness to help our colleagues in the health sector as they perform their critical work. Today, Government is formally asking them for their assistance.
The Minister continued:
“To this end, I have established a new emergency scheme which will fund childcare for parents and guardians working in essential health services to enable them to continue their crucial work during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The Government is asking that childcare providers and their staff consider signing up for this service, and in doing so, make a significant contribution to the Covid-19 emergency.
“I am very grateful to the childcare sector which constantly demonstrates its willingness to go beyond the call of duty to support children and families.”
Minister Zappone plans that childcare provision under this initiative can become available from Monday 18 May, as part of Phase 1 of the easing of restrictions currently scheduled to begin on that day. While today’s communications are targeted towards childcare providers, to allow them start the process of signing up, more information will be made available early next week for parents or guardians. Once this information is made available, parents eligible for this temporary scheme can start to sign up.
The Department of Children and Youth Affairs is encouraging interested services to consider the information and Pobal will contact childcare providers through the standard communications channels. Pobal and DCYA will consider the number and circumstances of services that have confirmed their availability to contribute and they will select a number of these to start with. More services and / or their staff will be selected if required as time progresses.
30 City and County Childcare Committees around the country will assist Pobal and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs in administering the service. Identified service providers will be contacted by Pobal as soon as possible to assess their availability to support this emergency measure.
Early next week, eligible health workers will be advised to contact a Pobal Parent Support Centre to request the service and to indicate their childcare needs and preferences.
The Minister concluded:
“There is a great sense of national solidarity with the health sector in this challenging time. The early learning and care and school-age childcare sector has already expressed huge support, offering help and advice to parents and guardians during this very difficult period.
Our ability to respond to this crisis reveals the value, strength and resilience of the sector and once again demonstrates that early learning and care and school-age childcare services are a critical part of the national infrastructure.”
All services that participate in this initiative will be supported to follow HSE guidance related to COVID-19. Information packs containing essential information and supports will be made available to them. Staff who outreach into family homes will continue to be supported by their employer.
from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs that issued to ELC & SAC providers for your information.
6th May 2020 – AIM Level 7 – 2nd year extensions process during Covid-19
For children who are currently receiving AIM supports and are eligible to avail of a 2nd year of the ECCE programme from September 2020/21:
If the child is eligible and is expected to return to the same pre-school setting for a second year and circumstances have not changed, services in receipt of AIM Level 7 supports must submit a 2nd year extension request for all eligible children. This request can be submitted via the AIM tab on the PIP Portal from Wednesday 6th May. Confirmation of continued support will be contingent on services being advised they can re-open, following Covid-19 closures.
If the child who is currently availing of AIM supports is expected to move to another pre-school in September 2020/21, or a for a child expected to enrol in a first year of ECCE, a new AIM application will need to be made by the new pre-school provider in conjunction with the parent(s).
A further announcement in relation to the timing of new AIM Applications for the 2020/21 programme call will be made shortly.
AIM Level 5
If a child child in receipt of AIM Level 5 equipment is transitioning to school in September 2020, transfer of ownership documents will be issued in due course.If a child in receipt of AIM Level 5 equipment is expected to move to another pre-school in September 2020, a new AIM application must be submitted by the new pre-school provider in conjunction with the parent(s).
A further announcement in relation to the timing of new AIM Level 5 Applications for the 2020/21 programme call will be issued shortly.
Early Years Team
1st May 2020 -Covid-19: Emergency Childcare service for Essential Healthcare Workers from 18 May
Existing registered childcare services will be invited to participate in the provision of childcare in the homes of essential healthcare workers from 18 May
On Friday 1st May the Taoiseach outlined a ‘roadmap’ to lifting restrictions.
Government has asked the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to oversee the provision of childcare in the homes of essential healthcare workers from 18 May. This outreach childcare model has also been supported by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) as part of the first phase of easing restrictions.
Existing registered childcare services will be invited to participate in this initiative. Participation in the service will be voluntary for both service providers and for childcare professionals. The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and her department have acknowledged the number of dedicated childcare services and professionals that have expressed their interest in supporting such an initiative in recent weeks and being part of Ireland’s call to action in these very difficult times.
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone said:
“Over the past few weeks my department has been planning for this emergency childcare service. We have been listening to suggestions from the sector. Now, with this decision to introduce the service, we will engage more intensively to make final preparations. A meeting with provider representatives will be arranged for early next week. We will make further information available to providers and their staff who may wish to volunteer as soon as possible thereafter. We will also finalise details with the Department of Health and the HSE and release information to essential healthcare workers on how they can access the scheme from 18 May.
“I would like to sincerely thank the services and staff who are planning to volunteer for doing their part in this unprecedented time for our health service. I know that not every early education or childcare service or staff member will be in a position to volunteer, but for those who can, their service is greatly valued.”
30th April – Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme (TWSCS) – Factsheet Version 3: 30 April 2020
Please note that this is version 3 and replaces the previous version.
29th April 2020 – Support for Parents with ideas and activities under the themes of Aistear, the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework.
A number of supports for parents were recently launched by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.
A key element of that support comes under First 5, the Government’s strategy for babies, young children and their families, and includes play and learning resources for children under 6.
These online resources are being hosted on the First 5 website, www.first5.gov.ie, with ideas and activities under the themes of Aistear, the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework.
As well as activities for parents to enjoy with their children, the online resources also give tips on supporting children with their feelings, and ideas and activities for learning through play.
A number of early years organisations have been working together to support the development of these resources, including Early Childhood Ireland, the National Childhood Network, and Better Start. Early Childhood Ireland has prepared a number of videos on behalf of the Department which include early learning and care providers and specialists. These videos, in the “Preschool at Home” section of the First 5 website, aim to inspire families to discover the learning and play that can take place at home.
We hope the ideas on the website will encourage parents to support their children to use their imagination and own experiences to explore and make new discoveries – from role play, to creative arts, to light play, to malleable materials and many more… The website includes ideas for how to use resources that can be found at home.
Let’s Play Ireland is a government-led initiative aimed at promoting play for all children living in Ireland during the COVID-19 emergency. The website is packed full of useful ideas and information for children and their families.
It contains information on the DCYA operated Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme (TWSCS) which is now available for sign-up.
Also, please find attached a second document the Temporary Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme: How-To Guide. This document is a guide which sets out information on the practicalities of operating the DCYA Temporary Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme (TWSCS). It aims to be informative and useful for providers processing payments for the period of the scheme.
Payments under the Department of Children and Youth Affairs Temporary Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme (DCYA TWSC) will be issued this week on 24th April 2020 to any service provider who has accepted the terms of the funding agreement and submitted the form by today 5pm Tuesday 21st April.
Important: To sign up for and benefit from this scheme, participating ELC and SAC providers with employees must register for the Revenue Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (Revenue TWSS) and operate the Revenue TWSS in accordance with the Revenue TWSS guidance.
Preliminary payments will be made based on a model that estimates amounts due under the DCYA TWSC scheme for both wages and overheads. When the DCYA TWSC value has been calculated, any preliminary payments under this agreement will be reconciled with the actual DCYA TWSC Scheme payments due to services following submission to Pobal of an application form and proof of the Revenue calculation. Further information on this process will be provided in the coming weeks.
As Childcare Services with no employees are not identifiable from PIP/EYP, the preliminary payments do not account for providers with no employees. Any excess in the preliminary payment will be reconciled when the DCYA TWSC Scheme payment value is calculated.
A reconciliation of payments made for the week 4th – 10th April under previous schemes ECCE (including AIM), CCSP, TEC and NCS will also be done when processing the second payment due 1st May for any providers signing on up to the DCYA TWSC Scheme.
21st April 2020 – Further guidance for the ELC & SAC sector on the interaction between the Revenue TWSS and the DCYA TWSC Scheme 21/04/2020 – CCCs
Further to the communication that issued on Friday 17 April regarding difficulties running payroll under the Revenue Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) / DCYA Temporary Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme (DCYA TWSC Scheme), please see below further guidance for the ELC and SAC sector on the interaction between the TWSS and the DCYA TWSC Scheme.
We are currently compiling an update to the DCYA FAQ on the DCYA TWSC Scheme to include this updated guidance and responses to other questions we have been receiving. We will circulate updated FAQ later today.
As you know the PAU for your organisation received an email on Thursday, 16th April with a link to the Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme (WSCS) Funding Agreement.
Payments will be issued on Friday 24th April to any service provider who has accepted the terms of this agreement and submitted the form to Pobal by 5pm on Tuesday, 21st April.
The application form for Phase 2 of WSCS process is currently being finalised and will be made available in the coming weeks.
If you have any queries on the application process please contact email@example.com.
Early Years Team
17th April 2020 – Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme (WSCS) Funding Agreement Reminder and Factsheet
Dear Service Provider,
As you know, the PAU for your organisation received an email yesterday, 16th April, with a link to the Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme (WSCS) Funding Agreement.
Payments will be issued on Friday, 24th April to any service provider who has accepted the terms of this agreement and submitted the form to Pobal by 5pm on Tuesday, 21st April.
The application form for Phase 2 of WSCS process is currently being finalised and will be made available in the coming weeks.
Please also find the Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme Factsheet for your benefit here: Factsheet
If you have any queries on the application process, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Early Years Team
16th April 2020 – Information on COVID-19 Measures for providers and staff of Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare Services (Updated 15 April 2020)
These FAQs aim to be informative but may be added to and/or amended as more information becomes available. In the event that any further corrections need to be made, these changes will be highlighted in future versions.
Please download the FAQ’s (version 2) by clicking on this link below
16th April 2020 – Process for applying for the Covid-19 Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme (WSCS)
Dear Service Provider
As you are aware DCYA are launching the Covid 19 Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme (WSCS) on Thursday 16th April. A copy of the Funding Agreement is available on PIP for you to review.
Please do not print and submit the copy which is available on PIP. The process for applying for the Covid-19 WSCS is a two phased approach, details of Phase 2 are currently being finalised and the application for and the step by step process will be made available in due course. The process for Phase 1 is as follows:
Process for applying for the Covid-19 Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme (WSCS)- Phase 1
– A copy of the Funding agreement is posted on the PIP Portal for review purposes only.
– Service providers must be registered with Revenue for the COVID 19 Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme.
– On Thursday 16th April the PAU for each organisation will receive an email to the registered email account with a link to the Funding Agreement. Once the provider follows the link, they must input the email address and password contained in the email.
– The service provider will then be brought to the Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme Funding Agreement, which must be read, required details input and the terms and conditions accepted.
– Once the required details are completed and the terms and conditions are accepted, submit the form
Note to Multi Service Organisations: The PAU will receive a separate email for each facility in the organisation. The Terms and conditions must be accepted for each. Pobal will contact the PAU of multi facility organisations only, after funding agreements are submitted as further information will be required.
Payments will be issued on Friday, 24th April, to any service provider who has submitted a Funding Agreement by 5pm on the Tuesday 21st April.
Please note that due to scheduled system maintenance on Thursday 16th, between the hours of 3pm – 6pm Service Providers may experience difficulties in submitting the forms.
We regret any inconvenience this may cause.
For support on submitting the form Service Providers should contact email@example.com
10th April 2020 – Message from DCYA
Earlier today you received a statement from the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform about the Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme (WSCS). Very good progress has been made on this scheme and the new Funding Agreement should be with you early next week for your consideration. Payments will be received on April 24th by those that sign up to it by April 21st.
Having considered how Exchequer funding can be best used to support the sector, funding for ECCE, NCS, CCSP and TEC schemes will be suspended from today enabling the wider sector to benefit fully from the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) and the WSCS. Attached please find a letter notifying you formally of the temporary suspension of these schemes for the period of the COVID-19 Emergency.
Services are reminded that to avail of the WSCS, you must be registered for the Revenue’s TWSS (unless your service has no employees). Those who have already registered for the TWSS, or who register now, can get a payment of €410 per eligible staff member per week, within days of doing so. Registration with and payments made under the TWSS can be backdated to March 26th. The €410 per week per staff member due under the WSS will be reconciled by Revenue with the exact amount owed around April 20th. The WSCS will be backdated to April 6th for those who sign up to the WSCS.
Additionally, to support cash flow, DCYA is planning to release a proportion (33%) of the Programme Support Payment you were scheduled to receive in June, to reach your account on April 17th. We will provide further detail re this on Tuesday.
DCYA acknowledges the significant distress COVID-19 has caused for everyone in Ireland and particularly for those operating businesses, including those running ELC and SAC services and employing staff. DCYA has worked intensively over the last four weeks to deliver a package of measures to assist the sector. We have been collating your many questions and preparing answers in collaboration with colleagues in Revenue and elsewhere. We will be issuing answers to those questions early next week alongside the publication of the WSCS Funding Agreement.
Wishing you a safe and happy Easter.
Department of Children and Youth Affairs.
10th April 2020
Joint statement from the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and Minister for DPER/Finance on measures for Childcare Sector during COVID-19
Following a meeting this morning between An Taoiseach, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, and the Minister for DPER/Finance, a pathway to introduce measures already outlined for the Childcare Sector has been agreed.
Given the economic necessity to ensure that the Sector remains sustainable following the current crisis so that parents can return to work or training, agreement was reached on how this could be best achieved within the context of other measures introduced by the Government.
Retaining childcare workers in the sector is key to future sustainability and the Government acknowledges this.
Unfortunately, plans to issue contracts to Childcare Providers today have had to be deferred until next week in order to ensure that there is compatibility with schemes in other sectors. Funding under the scheme will however be backdated to 6 April to account for the delay. Services are encouraged to register for the Revenue Wage Subsidy Scheme in the interim if they have not already done so.
Speaking following the meeting Minister Zappone said:
“Given the current challenges, we have been working intensively to introduce measures to ensure, as far as possible, that ECCE (free pre-school) and childcare will be available to children when we emerge from this crisis. While I regret the time it has taken to implement these measures, I am satisfied, following my meeting with An Taoiseach and the Minister for PER this morning, that we will be able to implement the robust measures which will allow us the best shot at a functioning Early Education and Childcare sector when this current crisis ends.”
Minister Donohoe commented:
“As Minister for PER I support the necessity to ensure that parents can return to work and training as seamlessly as possible including with childcare support. Our Early Learning and Care services, including the ECCE programme, are an extension of our education system. I am pleased that we are finalising measures to effect the necessary supports needed to ensure that our entire economy is ready to return to work in the best possible shape in the period ahead.”
3rd April 2020
Clarification around the email that issued to ELC & SAC providers on Friday evening 03/04/2020
Dear Early Years Provider,
Approximately €5m in payments will issue from Pobal to relevant providers on Wednesday, 8 April 2020 and should be in providers’ bank accounts on Thursday, 9 April 2020.
ECCE, CCSP and TEC
Payments to contracted ELC and SAC services will be calculated based on current child registrations and the calendars submitted by the provider to Pobal on or before the closure of services on 12 March 2020.
It should be noted that payments will only be made to services that had 6-10 April marked as a payable week on their calendar on the date of closure, 12 March 2020. Payments will therefore reflect the amount that would have been expected by services, and committed by DCYA, before COVID closures, for the week Monday 6 April to Friday 10 April.
The two weeks of 30 March to 5 April and 6 April to 12 April will be paid on 9 April. Where a provider may have opted for an unpaid week in either of these payment periods, this payment will be treated as a paid closure and reconciled when services have reopened.
Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme
DCYA continues to work closely with our Government partners regarding the Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme.
Early Years Division.
6th April 2020 – PIP Notification
Further clarification from the DCYA on payments.
Approximately €4m in payments will issue from Pobal to relevant providers on Wednesday and should be in accounts on Thursday, 9 April.
Payments are individualised by contracted ELC and SAC service according to current child registrations and their calendar for the period 6-10 April only. (Note for those delivering NCS: the two weeks of 30 March to 3 April and 6 April to 10 April are due for payment on 9 April.)
This is the total amount that would have been expected by services, and committed by DCYA, before COVID-19, for the week Monday 6 April to Friday 10 April. It includes CCS, NCS, TEC and a small amount for ECCE.
The smaller amount for ECCE reflects that most ECCE services were due to be closed for Easter.
DCYA cannot confirm a date for the new WSCS funding agreement but is working intensively, and significant progress has been made.
Services are reminded that the WSCS layers on top of the Revenue scheme (WSS) and hence services wishing to avail of the new DCYA scheme must be registered for WSS first.
Early Years Division DCYA
4th April 2020:
DCYA update on Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme Update & Payments for ELC and SAC programmes on an ex-gratia basis up until 10 April 2020
Further to previous communications that have issued in recent weeks, DCYA has been working intensively on the new Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme to support the Early Learning and Care and School-Age Childcare sector at this extremely difficult time.
We are working closely with Revenue and other partners across Government on how the Revenue’s Wage Subsidy Scheme and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection’s Pandemic Unemployment Payment will interact with the DCYA Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme.
We have made significant progress, but unfortunately the DCYA Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme is not yet ready to launch.
In the interim, as a sustainability measure and pending the finalisation of the new scheme, DCYA will continue to make payments for ELC and SAC programmes based on service calendars on an ex-gratia basis up until 10 April 2020.
Services continue to have access to the Wage Subsidy Scheme and other Government supports listed in our recent FAQs.
We regret the delay in finalising this complex new scheme and thank you for your patience at this challenging time. We are however, as stated, making significant progress and we will continue to work on this over the weekend.
We will revert to you as soon as possible.
Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) Information and FAQs on COVID 19 Measures for providers and staff of Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare Services