Budget 2020: Minister Zappone Announces a €94 million budget package
Minister Zappone announces a €94 million budget package
€54.5m for childcare …
- introduction of the new National Childcare Scheme which will see families who earn up to €100,000 per annum access childcare subsidies
- introduction of additional hours of subsidised income-based childcare from September 2020
- protection of lone parents to enhance the benefits of the National Childcare Scheme
- supporting increased uptake of the universal under 3 subsidy and income-based subsidies to families
- meet the continuing costs of providing two full years of ECCE
- increased funding to support Children with additional needs to access Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) under the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) and to ensure the full roll out of AIM over the 2 year ECCE programme
- additional investment for early learning and care and school age childcare inspections (Early Years Inspectorate, Tusla)
- meet additional costs associated with delivery of schemes, implementation of First 5, supporting good quality in the sector and improving sustainability of services
- fund to support the introduction of a Sectoral Employment Order and sustainability of Childcare Providers
- meet increasing demand for existing services and continue to improve overall service performance
- continue the progress made to reduce the number of children awaiting the allocation of a social worker
- address significant cost pressures being experienced in residential care
€2m for Youth and Participation Services, including a Special Fund for Youth Action on Climate Justice
Katherine Zappone TD, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, has announced extra funding of over €94m for Tusla, childcare and youth services, bringing the total investment by her department to €1.6 billion for 2020 from €1.1 billion in 2016.
The additional funding will be targeted at those on the lowest incomes, lone parents and children with additional needs.
The Minister said:
Budget 2020 will see an additional €54.5 million invested into early learning and care and school age childcare programmes, increasing the annual spend to just over €628m per annum from €264 million in 2014. This represents an increase of 9.3% over the 2019 allocation. It is an increase of 138% since 2014.
The additional €54.5m in 2020 will allow for thousands of families to benefit from the new National Childcare Scheme.
From November 2019 families who earn up to €100,000 gross income may benefit (case studies attached).
Families of an additional c. 7,000 children will either receive subsidies for the first time or receive increased subsidies.
As well as the full year costs for 2020, extra funding has been secured that will be of particular benefit to lone parents and other working families. Certain families already had the option to stay on existing schemes until end August 2020. They will now be able to stay on those schemes for an additional year until August 2021 or switch to the National Childcare Scheme, depending on whichever will benefit them most.
From September 2020, the maximum hours for the new scheme will increase from 40 hours per week to 45 hours, particularly benefiting parents of school age children who need before school and after school childcare to include time for work and commuting.
Low income parents who are not working or studying will have their hours increased from 15 to 20 hours. This will support our objective of promoting employment and reducing poverty.
As part of this measure, parents who currently benefit from subsidies for 17 hours of School Age Childcare per week (children attending school who need childcare either before or after school) will be subsidised for up to 22 hours of school age childcare.
The Minister said:
Another significant element of the increased early learning and care provision in Budget 2020 is additional funding for the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM). AIM enables children with disabilities to access and fully participate in the ECCE scheme (the two free pre-school years). The increased funding will enable an additional 1,000 children to access targeted pre-school supports, bringing the number of children availing of the scheme to approximately 6,600 children in 2019/20. This is a measure to support equality allowing children who need additional support to avail of early childhood care and education which is critical to optimise their early development.
The Minister has secured an additional €2 million for Youth Services and Participation. In addition to bolstering funding for existing youth services and schemes, a priority will be to create a special fund for Youth Action on Climate Justice.
It is expected that this will amplify the conversation on climate justice on the international stage. On November 23rd, Dáil na nÓg will meet and will form the newly appointed Comhairle National Executive. Our young people have already agreed that the National Executive’s work for the coming two years will be on the topic of Climate Justice.
The Minister plans to meet with the incoming National Executive and explore with them how she can refresh, renew and strengthen their structures so that they are supported to be centre stage in the conversation on climate justice.
This will involve a special fund through which she will invest in reform of the existing structures and mechanisms so that they:
- support direct and ongoing engagement and exchange with parliamentarians
- enable joined-up collaboration with other climate initiatives across Government and beyond
The overall goal will be to bolster our young people to be in powerful, enduring dialogue with decision-makers.
The fund will also support initiatives which are both youth-led and respond to the issues raised by young people.
Tusla will receive an increase of €31m in current funding in 2020 bringing its total allocation to €814 million – an increase of 4% over 2019. The extra funding will be used to meet increasing demand for existing services and continue to improve overall service performance. Tusla will also be in a position to continue making progress in reducing the number of children awaiting the allocation of a social worker. One of the more immediate pressures on Tusla’s budget at present is meeting increasing cost in residential care provision and the additional funding being made available in 2020 will assist Tusla in this regard.
The Minister said:
The Minister has again protected a dedicated funding stream for the important work Tusla carries in relation to the Family Resource Centres Programme and the Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence services.
The Minister said:
The Minister also announced additional funding for the extension of the Bail Supervision Scheme. The Bail Supervision Scheme (BSS) is targeted at young people who may otherwise have to be detained in Oberstown. The BSS which has been operating on a pilot basis in the Children Court, Dublin, since November 2016, has recently been evaluated by the University of Limerick. The evaluation, which will be published soon, shows that there was a marked reduction in the levels of re-offending and the majority of the young people enrolled attracted a non-custodial option at their sentencing hearings. There was also a high return to education and or training.
The Minister noted that the additional funding being made available in Budget 2020 will allow her department to begin the process of rolling out the scheme to the courts in other parts of the country.
The Minister said:
The Minister is strongly committed to the reform of the current “ad hoc” guardian ad litem system and to regulate it to benefit the greatest number of children and young people. Provision has been made for this in the budget. The new guardian ad litem service will be established and run by an executive office within her department.
The Minister said she intends to ensure that a child’s view is always effectively conveyed in the court in childcare court proceedings. It is planned that the new national service which will be operational early in 2021 will facilitate a significant increase in a GAL service within existing resources once fully established.
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