60,000 free pre school places following €2.5 million funding boost

Protest: Members of the ACP argued for improved job security at march last weekend.
Protest: Members of the ACP argued for improved job security at march last weekend.

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone has announced that an additional 60,000 children will be receiving free pre-school care by April 2017 but the late announcement has been criticised by childcare professionals association.

Dr Katherine Zappone, TD announced yesterday that more than €6.5m in capital funding has been allocated through the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to 1,006 pre-school providers nationwide. This represents an increase of over €2.5m on the amount of €4m announced for this programme in February 2016. 

Minister Zappone said: “The extension of the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) pre-school scheme so that every child will be able to access free pre-school from the age of three until they start school (entering pre-school in the September, January or April after they turn three) is a welcome development for children, parents and Early Years providers.

"It will see more than 60,000 additional children enrolled in the programme by April 2017. 

However, the Association of Chilcare Professionals (ACP) has critcised the late announcement as most workers have finished for the summer.



At a protest march in Cork last week Kevin Callinan, IMPACT deputy general secretary said: “The reality is that, as things stand, no contracts are in place and there is certainly no guarantee that this will be sorted by the time parents seek to take up their entitlements in just over two months’ time.

“In the meantime, thousands of skilled and experienced early years professionals are being forced out of work for the summer because the Government only funds early years services for 38 weeks.".

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