26th Feb – Launch of COVID-19 Impact Support

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.

March Provider FAQs v1 final pdf

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

COSP Emergency Measures_Technical Guide_Final12thFeb

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.

Please see also the Funding Agreement Guidelines  for further information and assistance.

Open/Closed Status including Force Majeure

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.

Payment Schedule

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;

Eligibility Criteria

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

Programme payments

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

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

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-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.

February Provider FAQs V.2 final

27th January – Parent FAQ’s

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).

Click here to download Parent FAQ with regard to Early Learning and Care and School Aged Childcare

27th January – Provider FAQ’s

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.

Please find attached ELC SAC Provider FAQs Feb V.1 – 27 Jan 2021

23rd January –

Please see FAQ’s Version 3 (22nd January) which was published by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.

Provider FAQ V3 – 22 Jan 2021

13th January –

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

This document is available to download  here: FAQs for Providers of Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare Services (08 January)

Published on 7th January

FAQs for Parents of Children in Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare Services – available to download here: FAQs for Parents of Children in Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare Services (07 January)

Published on 

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: