Department of Children and Youth Affairs
Q&As – Budget changes relating to Childcare and Pre-school funding
6th December 2011
Early Childhood Care & Education (ECCE) programme
Q: What are the changes to the pre-school year in Early Childhood
Care & Education (ECCE) programme?
A: Under the programme, services are paid a capitation in respect of
each child. Up to now, this has been at a weekly rate of €64.50, or €75
where the pre-school leaders hold degree level qualifications in Early
Education. From next September 2012, these rates will be reduced by
approximately 3%, to €62.50 and €73 respectively. This change will not
take effect in the current pre-school year.
It is recognised that the largest cost for services is labour, and the
Staff/Child ratios are governed by the Child Care (Pre-School Services)
(No 2) Regulations 2006. These currently require that, where children
are in the ECCE age cohort, that there should be a ratio of no more than
1:10. It has been decided to increase this ratio to increase to a
maximum of 1:11, from 1st September 2012. Ratios regarding the space per
child will remain unchanged.
Q: What difference will this make to the quality of the programme?
A: While the ratio of staff to children is important, it is
considered that an increase of 1 child per adult, from 10 to 11, will
not have an unduly significant impact on the quality of the pre-school
experience. Internationally, most countries range from ratios of 1:7 to 1:15
for this age cohort, and the majority are between 1:8 and 1:12, and
Ireland is therefore within that range.
Q: What about children in full daycare, where the ratios are
A: Currently there is a different ratio for children in the ECCE age
cohort in daycare, as opposed to sessional care. For the duration of
the ECCE programme session (currently 2¼ hours or 3 hours per day) the
standard sessional ratios will apply. For the remainder of the day (i.e.
the hours before and after the ECCE session) the normal ratio of 1:8
will continue to apply to children in daycare. The details of this
change will be finalised in the context of the re-drafting of the
Q: How will this affect the income of services?
A: Where services are in a position to accommodate additional
children, their total income will rise by 6.6%. If they do not increase
their child numbers and maintain their current ratios, their income will
fall by between 2.7% and 3.1%.
Q: What will happen if a service cannot attract additional children?
A: In that case, the income of the service from the ECCE programme
will fall by €2 per child per week.
Q: What is the overall position regarding ECCE funding next year?
A: Demographic factors mean that there is an increase of 3,000 in
the number of children participating in the scheme. This requires an
increase in funding for the scheme of €9.8m, even after the savings
associated with the change in capitation rates.
Q: When these changes take effect?
A: All of them will take effect from September 2012