Image source: File photograph: Cyril Byrne
€54.5m for childcare
o Introduction of the new National Childcare Scheme which will see families who earn up to €100,000 per annum access childcare subsidies
o Introduction of additional hours of subsidised income-based childcare from September 2020
o Protection of lone parents to enhance the benefits of the National Childcare Scheme
o Supporting increased uptake of the universal under 3 subsidy and income-based subsidies to families
o Meet the continuing costs of providing two full years of ECCE
o 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
o Additional investment for early learning and care and school age childcare inspections (Early Years Inspectorate, Tusla)
o Meet additional costs associated with delivery of schemes, implementation of First 5, supporting good quality in the sector and improving sustainability of services
o Fund to support the introduction of a Sectoral Employment Order and sustainability of Childcare Providers
€31.2m for Tusla
o Meet increasing demand for existing services and continue to improve overall service performance
o Continue the progress made to reduce the number of children awaiting the allocation of a social worker
o 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
· €2.7m for reform of the Guardian ad litem service
· €0.8m for the extension of the Bail Supervision Scheme
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:
“I am very pleased that we have again delivered as promised on the commitment to continue investing in our children and young people. Today’s €94 million package, at a time of great uncertainty in relation to the impact of Brexit on the economy, represents another significant step in ensuring access to high quality, affordable childcare and ensuring that Tusla is in a position to continue on its programme of service reform and targeted development of key services.”
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.
Additional Subsidised Hours from September 2020
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:
“The introduction of the new National Childcare Scheme is a landmark moment for making high quality childcare more affordable and more accessible to families in Ireland. I am particularly pleased that from September 2020 we will be increasing the hours available to children living in disadvantage from 15 hours to 20 hours per week, ensuring that they have access to important early learning opportunities.”
Access and Inclusion Model – children who need additional pre-school supports
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.
Additional €2 million funding for Youth Services – Special fund for Youth Action on Climate Justice
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:
o support direct and ongoing engagement and exchange with parliamentarians, and
o 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:
“I strongly support Tusla’s important work in protecting some of the most vulnerable children and families in our increasingly complex and diverse society. I have secured additional funding each year for Tusla since becoming Minister in 2016. The additional resources provided each year are necessary in order to deliver on a significant programme of service reform and have also allowed for targeted development of key services.”
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:
“I provided additional funding of €1.5 million to the 121 Family Resource Centres across the country in 2019. This brought total funding for the Family Resource Centre Programme to some €18 million in 2019 and I am ensuring that this is made available again in 2020.
I also provided an additional €1.5 million in funding last year for Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence services bringing the overall annual funding for these services to over €25 million. This funding has supported Tusla in meeting obligations under the Istanbul Convention and has supported the provision of enhanced and sustainable services. I am ensuring that this is made available again in 2020.”
Bail Supervision Scheme
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:
“Support for an innovative bail scheme that reduces the risk of re-offending benefits the whole of society. It improves education and training participation. It supports often marginalised groups of parents and caregivers within their homes enabling them to support high-risk young people in their care to meet bail conditions and reduce reoffending.”
Reform of Guardian Ad Litem Scheme
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.
High Level Summary of measures
o €1.6 billion in 2020
o Increase of €93m in current funding (6%) over 2019
o €54m for childcare
o €31m for Tusla
o €8m across other areas of the Vote (e.g. youth services, GAL office)
The resource allocation includes financial provisions for a range of key services in respect of children and young people including:
· €814 million for Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, representing an increase of 4% over the 2019 allocation;
· €628 million for early learning and care and school age childcare, representing an increase of over 9% over the 2019 allocation;
· €29 million to meet operational costs associated with the management of the Oberstown Children Detention Campus and continued roll-out of the Bail Supervision Scheme;
· €65 million towards youth servicesand to implement LGBTI and National Youth Strategy Actions, representing an increase of €2.0 million over the 2019 allocation;
· €9.5 million towards the Prevention and Early Intervention Programmes to support the continued operation of sites;
· €7 million towards the Intervention Programme for Children and Young People which supports a number of specific measures to support children and disadvantaged young people through the Dormant Accounts Fund;
· Just over €2 million towards the Programme for Peace and Reconciliation to support the development of North/South youth projects;
· €2.8 million towards the establishment costs of the Guardian ad Litem executive office
· Just under €5.6 million to the Adoption Authority of Ireland to support its operational costs and other responsibilities under the forthcoming Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill;
· €2.8 million to the Office of the Ombudsman for Children to support it in the fulfilment of its statutory responsibilities; and
· €3.9 million to support the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and costs associated with the Collaborative Forum established to facilitate the participation of former residents of Mother and Baby Homes in recommending actions and solutions to Government.
Programme A: Children and Family Support Programme
The aim of this programme is to integrate and improve the existing service delivery arrangements and support the welfare of children, young people and families. In particular, the budgetary decisions for 2020 mean that the Department will:
· Increase the allocation to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, bringing its total allocation to €814m – an increase of 4% over the 2019 expenditure. The additional resources will allow Tusla to:
o Continue work to reduce the number of children awaiting the allocation of a social worker (reduce number of unallocated cases),
o Address significant cost pressures in residential care,
o Continue to improve service performance and make the necessary improvements to achieve better outcomes for vulnerable children and families
o Support Tusla in continuing to provide the existing level of services in face of increasing demands.
· Continue to support the Oberstown Children Detention Campus meet its operational costs and continued investment in the Bail Supervision Scheme.
· Establish the Guardian ad Litem Executive Office to put in place a nationally organised and managed Guardian ad Litem service.
Programme B: Sectoral Programmes for Children and Young People
The aim of this programme is to support the provision of both universal and targeted services for the care, development and wellbeing of children and young people. The Government’s budgetary decisions for 2020 under this Programme will allow for the following:
· An increase of €54.5m to childcare services, an increase of over 9% over the 2019 expenditure. The additional resources will allow for:
o The introduction of the National Childcare Scheme (NCS) and an increased level of uptake for both the universal under 3 subsidy, and targeted subsidies to families
o An increase in the hours for the NCS for working parents from Sept 2020, from a maximum of 40 hours to a maximum of 45 hours. Also an increase in the hours available to children whose parents are not in work or study from 15 hours per week to 20 hours per week.
o Provision of the option for parents on existing schemes to remain on these schemes for another year after August 2020
o Meet the continuing cost of two years of ECCE
o Increased funding under the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) to support the full participation of children with disabilities in ECCE. This will support the full roll out of AIM over the 2 year ECCE programme and respond to growing demand due to greater awareness of the scheme
o An increase in allocation towards Tusla’s Early Years Inspectorate to enable it to perform its statutory function in relation to early learning and care and school age childcare
o Meet additional costs associated with delivery of the schemes, implementation of First 5, support good quality in the sector and improve sustainability of services
· Continue to support Youth Services, with the Targeted Youth Funding Scheme, Youth Information Centres and the Youth Service Grant Scheme, along with commitments under the LGBT+ National Youth Strategy Actions.
Programme C: Policy and Legislation Programme
The aim of this Programme is to oversee key areas of policy, legislation and inter-sectoral collaboration to improve the lives and well-being of children and young people, including the implementation of the Policy Framework for Children and Young People. In particular, the resources allocated will allow for the following:
· Continued support for the Growing Up in Ireland (GUI) study and other research programmes,
· Support the operating costs of the Adoption Authority of Ireland and Office of the Ombudsman for Children,
· Meet the costs associated with the Commission of Investigation Mother and Baby Homes,
· Continued development and roll-out of projects under the Children’s and Young People policy framework.