We are writing to you to wish you well in the coming weeks, whether you are reopening on 29 June, later in July or August or are waiting until the 2020/21 programme year begins.
The Department is currently developing proposals for the 2020/21 Programme year, and we will email you as soon as we have confirmed information on the contracts and the funding model.
Pobal is moving ECCE onto the Early Years Platform, the Hive, for the new programme year, so we would ask any provider who has not yet registered on the Hive to do so now, as we know that some of you have not used it before. The Hive is also being used by Pobal to administer the reopening grants, so it is important that you register on the Hive if you are eligible for a reopening grant.
If you have any difficulties in using the Pobal Early Years Platform, please contact the Pobal Provider Centre who will be able to assist you. Contacting the provider centre also lets Pobal know that there is a problem, as IT issues are not always apparent to Pobal unless users alert them. We are aware that there were some problems for providers accessing the system on Monday and Tuesday. Pobal has assured us that this problem has been resolved, and by lunchtime today, 1,645 grant applications had been finalised.
We would like to take this opportunity to clarify that services which won’t be opening until the next programme year, i.e. late August/early September 2020, can apply for both the reopening payment support and the Covid-19 Capital grant. You don’t need to open in the summer to be eligible for these grants, and you don’t need to wait until you reopen to apply. Full details are available on the dedicated providers pages on reopening, which are on the First 5 website https://first5.gov.ie/practitioners/reopening.
The Department will continue to update the provider pages on the First 5 website, and the ‘Let’s Get Ready….to return to crèche/pre-school’ website which is aimed at parents, as more guidance and support documentation becomes available. For example, next week we will be providing additional resources on using Irish in the home and in services. We will email you when significant documents are uploaded to the website.
If your service is reopening shortly, you should make your application for the grant as soon as possible, so that you can receive the money quickly. Children on DCYA funded programmes should also be registered as soon as you can, so that you receive your funding without delay. We realise that this is a very busy time for services which are about to reopen, but we hope that you can take the time to make these applications, so that your funding is not delayed.
In addition, if you are reopening over the summer, the CCCs will be collecting information on the number of services which have opened, the number of children who have returned to the services, and the number of vacancies. The CCCs, Pobal and the Department need this information so that we can monitor the number of services reopening and the number of children who are returned to early learning and care, and to help us plan for the next programme year. Pobal is developing a user-friendly template for you to complete with this information, and Pobal will send it to you via the Early Years Platform tomorrow, Friday 26 June.
Best wishes for the summer months,
Early Years Division.