Minister for Children and Youth Affairs has announced €4m is being provided to improve childcare services

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. Katherine Zappone, has announced that €4m is being provided to improve childcare services.

Minister Zappone says the funding will help put the infrastructure in place to support ambitious plans to turn Ireland’s childcare system from one of the most expensive in the world to the best.
The 2017 Early Years Capital Funding programme is to be made available to childcare centres, crèches and other early year services under three strands:

· Strand 1: Additional childcare places (€3 million)
· Strand 2: Building improvements and maintenance (€500,000)
· Strand 3: Natural outdoor play areas (€500,000)

Minister Zappone said;
“As Minister I am determined that we will deliver quality, affordable, accessible childcare.
Our goals are ambitious. We must lift the cost barrier which is preventing too many families from accessing services.
Today (Monday 20th March 2017) we take another step to putting the infrastructure in place to support our plans by providing €4m in capital funding – which will build on similar funding provided last year.
I encourage providers to use this scheme to increase both the quantity and quality of childcare places.
This funding is in addition to €3m we announced earlier this month to improve childcare services for children of school-going age.

As this money is being made available I am also progressing the legislation which will underpin the radical new approach to subsidising childcare outlined as part of Budget 2017.
In the coming months we will continue progressing our plans with a view to ensuring that families will start benefiting in the Autumn.”


Over 1,000 services received capital funding under the 2016 capital scheme enabling all qualifying applications to be fully funded. All of this funding has been fully utilised and as a result a significant number of new childcare places have become available to children entering the ECCE (free pre-school) programme from January 2017. The 2017 Capital programme will build on the success of last years programme and increase both the quantity and the quality of childcare places.”

Strand 1 will accommodate applications from childcare providers who wish to create additional childcare places for children in the 0-5 age range. The maximum grant available under this strand is €50,000 and is intended to allow for the full cost of a minor expansion project or the purchase of a temporary structure.

Strand 2 will provide grants of up to a maximum of €20,000 for building improvements and maintenance and is exclusively for community (not for profit) early years services. These grants are being provided to ensure that community services continue to be fit for purpose and are energy efficient. Grants under this strand will be provided for essential repairs to the existing building and facilities, replacement of the building’s fixtures and fittings, works highlighted as a direct result of an inspection by TUSLA or other competent authorities, and for works to remove internal divides or rearrange internal spaces to improve efficiency.

Strand 3 provides funding for natural outdoor play areas, to create opportunities for children to play outdoors, in a way which promotes physical development, provides health benefits and facilitates children to learn about risk and challenges in a natural and safe environment. This initiative is targeted at smaller services that have not previously availed of such funding. Under early years regulations, services are required to provide outdoor space for children, and this measure seeks to improve the quality of these. Services can apply for grants of up to a maximum of €5,000.
Pobal will be responsible for administering the programme on behalf of the Department. Further details and information on how to make an application for funding will be available shortly on the Pobal website –

New mums found to be lacking confidence when it comes to caring for a sick baby

Survey reveals new Mums are unsure of what to do when their baby is sick


  • 27% of first time Mums lack an understanding of what they should do when their baby is unwell; almost one third struggle to understand what their baby’s cry means
  • Almost half of new Mums do not know what temperature a fever begins
  • Nurofen for Children has teamed up with Lucy Kennedy to launch its second annual #FeverFighter campaign to inform and empower new Mums


Research by Nurofen for Children has found that 27% of new Mums lack an understanding of what to do when their baby is unwell and often rely on friends and family for advice. Furthermore, a third (30%) of new mums lack confidence when it comes to understanding what their baby’s cry means. Whether its hunger, tiredness or pain, first time mums find it difficult to identify what is causing the cry. When seeking advice on caring for an ill baby, almost a third of respondents (28%) go to their own mother, while 18% look for recommendations from either their GP or online sources and 12% seek the advice of a pharmacist. Mother-in-laws are a less popular source of advice, however, with just 1% of first time mums turning to them for advice!


The survey, commissioned by Nurofen for Children, the pain and fever relief brand, was carried out among 400 first time mothers and informed its #FeverFighters campaign. The research also revealed that almost half of the new mums surveyed (49%) do not know what temperature constitutes a fever (dr. Sinead Beirne suggests above 37.8°C), a quarter thought it was lower and 24% said it was above that figure.

When asked what the most challenging things were about becoming a new Mum, over a third of respondents said lack of sleep (39%) was the most challenging, an issue that is exacerbated when caring for a child that is suffering from a fever. It can be common for baby’s sleep pattern to be irregular while ill, which means mums sleep is also affected. Other challenges new mothers encounter is finding time for themselves (16%) and juggling finances (10%).

In response to the survey’s findings, Nurofen for Children launches the #FeverFighters campaign with TV presenter, Lucy Kennedy as ambassador, who welcomed her third child in to the world just before Christmas and GP Dr. Sinead Beirne. The #FeverFighters campaign has been created to help parents, and in particular first time parents, understand the facts and dispel the myths surrounding fever and effective fever management. This is the second year that Nurofen for Children has rolled out this campaign as the brand is very committed to equipping mums with information and support to help create peace of mind and confidence when treating their child at home.


Lucy Kennedy comments: “As a mum of three, including a brand new baby, I totally understand how stressful and worrying it is when your baby gets sick. I think it’s hardest for first time Mums in particular. I remember it well, feeling very vulnerable and constantly questioning whether I was doing the right thing. The #FeverFighter campaign aims to equip Mums with the information they need on how to effectively manage a fever at home. By taking a step-by-step approach, Mums can not only reduce the symptoms of fever but enable their baby to enjoy their day or a good night’s sleep. Also I want to reassure fellow Mummies that they are not alone when it comes to their worries and insecurities, especially when a baby is sick, we all feel the exact same way. I really hope that they find the information from the campaign helpful and feel a little more confident when caring for their babies when they are ill – Mummies United!” 


Dr. Sinead Beirne’s Top Tips for Effective Fever Management

As part of the #FeverFighters campaign Dr. Sinead Beirne has devised her top tips for effective fever management:

    Your baby’s normal temperature range is between 36°C – 36.8°C. A fever is seen as a temperature over 37.8°C on more than one consecutive reading.

Cool the baby down by stripping them to their vest and / or placing them in a bath of lukewarm water. This may actually help to reduce your child’s fever – make sure the water doesn’t get too cold.



You can medicate your baby effectively at home. Ibuprofen can be given to babies over 3 months or babies weighing over 5kgs. Paracetamol can be used from 2 months. Parents should always read the label of any medicine before giving it to their children.


Keep the baby well hydrated with fluids. If they have been vomiting you need to rehydrate slowly. A tip I tell parents is to give a teaspoon of fluid for every commercial break, if you’ve got the TV on. Ice pops can be helpful too as well as ice cream!


Try not to bundle your baby up in blankets or extra clothes at bed time, as you don’t want to increase the body temperature. I suggest using a baby sleep bag and just one layer of light clothing, like a vest, so no need for pyjamas too.


If your baby is under 3 months and has a definite temperature you should make arrangements to see a doctor. If baby is over 3 months and their temperature stays above 38.5°C despite treatment; or rises to 39°C-40°C and if a fever lasts longer than 2 days, you should make arrangements to see your doctor.

Remember, most temperatures can be managed safely at home. However, your child should see a doctor if they have a spreading rash, headache, poor colour, limping, stiff neck or a reaction to bright light.


Disclaimer Lucy Kennedy or Dr Sinead Beirne do not endorse any medication brands.

Ibuprofen or paracetamol based medications can be used to treat pain and fever. Nurofen for Children contains ibuprofen, which provides effective pain and fever relief for children from 3 months and weighing over 5kg. Nurofen for Children starts to work in 15 minutes to reduce fever and can last up to eight hours, helping baby and mum get relief during the day or night when baby is unwell. Paracetamol based medications can be used in infants 2 months and over.

€3m Euro to support School Age Childcare School Age Childcare Capital Scheme

€3m Euro to support School Age Childcare

€3m Euro to support School Age Childcare School Age Childcare Capital SchemeOn foot of commitments made in the Programme for a Partnership Government, and following a period of intensive collaboration and consultation, Ministers for Children & Youth Affairs and Education & Skills, Dr Katherine Zappone, T.D and Richard Bruton, T.D, are today publishing the Action Plan on School Age Childcare.

Under the plan, funding of €3m is being made available to support the provision of services aimed at school-going children.

An Inter-departmental Group, led by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, in close co-operation with the Department of Education and Skills was tasked by the two Ministers with setting out actions for both Departments that will lead to a quality system of affordable school age childcare with a range of choices for parents and their children for childcare out of school hours.

The Group engaged with key stakeholders including school principals, parents, children and early years services during the course of their work.

As part of a wider commitment to enhance the use of school facilities out of school hours, the Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton met with education partners in a roundtable discussion held during the summer where relevant issues were discussed.

The Minister for Education and Skills is developing guidelines for the use of school buildings out of hours with a view to facilitating increased use of school buildings where feasible.

The voice of school age children was also sought by the Group and the results of a consultation exercise with children on their preferences for care and activities after school is included in this report.

The report concludes with specific actions that include the development of a clear quality framework for school age childcare, a tailored qualification for staff working in such services and other capacity building supports.  In summary, the Group found that:

·    National and international research and opinion converged regarding the need for certain fundamentals to be in place in order to deliver a range of high quality, affordable options for school age childcare that meet the needs of children and their parents.  These options must include both formal / centre-based school age care, and informal care by childminders.

·    Ireland needs to continue to invest in early years and school age care to catch up with its OECD counterparts in terms of quality and affordability.  This investment will help to deliver best outcomes for children and will encourage parents to enter or remain in the workforce if they wish to do so.

·    The quality of school age childcare is critical, and a robust system of quality assurance / regulation must be developed over time to assure the safety and wellbeing of children.  Such a system should include a comprehensive set of quality standards, and be accompanied by a compliance regime against these standards.

·    The quality and capacity of the school age childcare workforce is also critical, and efforts must be made to ensure that school age children are cared for by adults suitably qualified to meet their varied needs.  The preference of Irish working parents to date to opt for more informal care for their school age children through childminders must be acknowledged, and policy must reflect the need for quality and affordability measures to extend to this part of the sector also.

·    The voices of children and parents must be taken into account in designing and delivering school age childcare.  There is general agreement on the need to separate school activity from after-school activity, and for a focus on rest, relaxation and play/recreation.

Launching the Report and Action Plan, Minister Zappone said:

“While many parents actively choose to care for their children themselves, for many others the cost of childcare, concerns about its quality, or the limited availability of accessible options, prevents them from gaining employment, remaining in employment, or enrolling in education and training courses.  This Action Plan recognises that parents who cannot care for their children after the school day or during the school holidays need a variety of options to meet their childcare needs – options that are affordable, accessible and assure the wellbeing of their children.  I welcome the collaboration between my Department and the Department of Education and Skills in preparing this Report, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in Government to progress its recommendations.”

Minister Bruton echoed that sentiment, saying “this Report and associated actions demonstrate the value of strong collaboration across all areas of Government.  My Department and its agencies will lead on the development of a professional qualification for school age childcare workers in acknowledgement of the unique role they will play in providing a quality experience for children out of school hours.  The Action Plan contains a commitment that my Department will engage further with the relevant education stakeholders and school property owners to formulate guidelines for schools to facilitate the use of school buildings out-of-hours. I am strongly committed to working with school authorities and property owners to build on their important role as hubs for many activities within their communities including, where appropriate the provision of school age childcare.

School Age Childcare Capital Scheme

Minister Zappone also today announced €3m in capital funding to support increased capacity for the provision of school age childcare.  The new Capital Scheme will be open to both community/not-for-profit and private services and will comprise three separate strands, as follows:

Ø    Strand A: Establishment of new School Age Childcare services

A grant of up to €20,000 will be available for the establishment of new services

Ø    Strand B: Expansion of existing services

A grant of up to €10,000 will be available for the expansion of existing services.  The provision of additional places will be a criterion for this grant.

Ø    Strand C: Improvement of existing services

A grant of up to €5,000 will be available to improve the quality of the service provided in existing services.

The School Age Childcare Capital Scheme will be implemented on behalf of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs by Pobal.  The Scheme, which will be administered on-line, will be open for applications in early April.

Other developments in School Age Childcare

Working Group on the Development of School Age Childcare Quality Standards

The first Action in the Report’s Action Plan is the establishment of a Working Group to develop quality standards for school age childcare.  This Group, which will be established later this month, will be chaired by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, and will include representatives from the Department of Education and Skills, Tusla, childcare providers and school age childcare specialists.  The Working Group will be expected to develop quality standards for school age childcare by September 2017.