For Written Answer on : 05/07/2023
Question Number(s): 176 Question Reference(s): 32985/23
Department: Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Children; Equality; Disability; Integration and Youth if he has considered an expansion of his Department’s Building Blocks Capital Programme to make capital grants available to potential childcare service providers towards the cost of purchasing premises to develop childcare facilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Some €69 million has been allocated to the early learning and childcare sector under the National Development Plan (NDP) 2023-2025. This will enable significant capital investment in early learning and childcare across three pillars:
- Building Blocks – Improvement Grant;
- Building Blocks – Capacity Grant; and
- Building Blocks – Innovation Grant.
The Building Blocks – Improvement Grant is now closed. Under this Pillar, €9 million was allocated earlier this year in grants ranging from €35,000 to €75,000 for energy upgrades and retrofit projects.
Work is currently underway on the design and delivery of Pillar 2, which has an allocation of €20 million in 2024 and €25 million in 2025. The Building Blocks – Capacity Grant will address capacity gaps, fund an expansion in existing services and invest in the development of new services where most needed.
A working group has been established to oversee the design and delivery of the Capacity Grant. The group is conducting a need analysis, which will identify areas of unmet need, by geographical area and by age cohort. The group comprises officials from my Department, representatives of the County Childcare Committees and Pobal.
I hope to be in a position to provide more information on the delivery of this Building Blocks – Capacity Grant in the coming weeks.
A full mid-term review of the NDP will be undertaken in 2025, to allow Government to:
- take stock of progress in terms of delivery of the planned projects and programmes; and
- review and reaffirm investment priorities of Government.
The review will be carried out in order to prepare and publish a new updated 10-year plan for public capital investment in 2026, covering the period 2026 to 2035.