Roderic O’Gorman, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, has announced a €45m Capital Grant for the Early Learning and Childcare Sector. The Building Blocks – Capacity Grant is part of a wider Building Blocks Capital Programme for Early Learning and Childcare under the revised National Development Plan 2021-2030 (NDP).
The purpose of the Building Blocks – Capacity Grant is to address capacity gaps by expanding existing provision and investing in the development of new provision where most needed. The primary focus of the Capacity Grant is to increase capacity in the 1-3 age range for full day or part-time care. Places for children under age 1 will also be eligible for funding. The Capacity Grant will be open to Core Funding partner services.
The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth is undertaking a detailed needs analysis of supply and demand for Early Learning and Childcare. This analysis will identify areas of undersupply across the country and will allow the funding to be targeted at areas most in need.
The Capacity Grant will be split into two strands, an Expansion Grant Scheme, and a larger-scale Extension Grant Scheme. Both schemes will operate from 2024
Key features of the Expansion Grant Scheme:
- €15m will be made available from early 2024 to providers to fund expansion projects in areas of identified undersupply.
- priority will be given to delivering full-time and part-time places within the 1-3 age group. Places for children under age 1 will also be eligible for funding.
- projects of between €50,000 and €100,000 will be funded to deliver additional capacity, e.g. where services can renovate/upgrade existing space to cater for more children
- match funding will be required of privately owned services, with a maximum contribution by the Department of 50% of total project costs. Match funding will not be required of community-led services.
Key features of the Extension Grant Scheme:
- funding to be made available to providers later in 2024, to commence larger-scale expansion projects that will be completed in 2025. Total funding available for this Scheme will be €20m.
- priority will be given to the expansion of full-time and part-time places within the 1-3 age groups, within areas of identified undersupply
- match funding will be required of private services, with a maximum contribution by the Department of 50% of total project costs. Match funding will not be required of community-led services.
Service providers may be awarded funding under one of the Expansion Grant Scheme or Extension Grant Scheme only. The allocation of funding under the Capacity Grant will be informed by the results of a detailed needs analysis, which is underway, and which will identify capacity gaps and areas and categories of need.
Read the full Press Release here