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Press Release

Minister Zappone announces Expert Group to develop a new Funding Model for Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare

Published: 18 September 2019
From: Department of Children and Youth Affairs
  • Michael Scanlan, former Secretary General of the Department of Health and Children, has been appointed as Chair to the group.
  • First 5 strategy pledges to build on the 117% increase in investment, made over the last four budgets, in order to make further progress towards average OECD levels of investment. The new Funding Model will ensure that the State leverages maximum value from that investment.

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. Katherine Zappone TD, today announced the formal initiation of a project to develop a new Funding Model for Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare and the establishment of an Expert Group to lead this work.

Today the Minister said:

“The Early Learning and Care sector is extremely important for hundreds of thousands of families. The 4,500 services in the sector make a massive contribution to children’s early development, particularly for more vulnerable children; they allow parents to participate in the workforce; and they are key to shaping our future economy and society."
“Whilst we have increased investment by 117% over the last four budgets, doubled the numbers of children benefiting from subsidies, doubled the number of places, doubled the free pre-school scheme, addressing affordability and accessibility and raising quality remain important issues. Government has committed to doubling investment again over the next 10 years and with this investment we should see further major improvements. But, the State must also take care that public money ensures that the fees charged to parents reflect true costs and a reasonable profit only, and that income is used in a reasonable manner to provide appropriate terms and conditions for staff in the sector. A range of initiatives are underway by my department to address these and other issues, and, as part of that landscape of reform, a review of our funding model is critical.”

The Expert Group has been requested to examine the current model of funding, its effectiveness in delivering quality, affordable, sustainable and inclusive services and how additional resourcing can be delivered for the sector to achieve these objectives drawing on international practice in this area. The Expert Group will also design an inclusive consultation and engagement process to take account of the voices of providers, parents and other stakeholders within the sector. Their recommendations will be brought back to Government in due course for approval. The development of the new Funding Model advances a number of the key actions contained in First 5: A Whole-of-Government Strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families 2019-2028.

Government’s First 5 strategy pledges to build on recent investment in order to make further progress towards average OECD levels of investment. A new Funding Model will be a crucial mechanism to ensure that the State leverages maximum value from that additional investment in terms of affordability for parents and the quality of service offered to children, complementing the transformation the new National Childcare Scheme will bring, and the existing ECCE scheme. It will also be informed by those running current services and aspiring to provide the best service to children and families.

The Expert Group will be independently chaired and will include national and international experts in Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare systems, funding and quality; economics; and relevant policy experts from the government departments which will be involved in implementing the new Funding Model. Michael Scanlan, former Secretary General of the Department of Health and Children, has been appointed as Chair to the group.

The remaining members are follows:

  • Professor Edward Melhuish, Professor of Human Development at Oxford University and a highly renowned international research expert on quality in Early Learning and Care
  • Professor Eva Lloyd, Director of the International Centre for the Study of the Mixed Economy of Childcare and a Professor of Early Childhood in the Cass School of Education and Communities at the University of East London, highly specialised in the niche field of funding of Early Learning and Care
  • Tove Mogstad Slinde, Senior Adviser in the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research in the Department of Kindergartens and Schools and former Chair of the OECD Network on Early Childhood Education and Care
  • Dr Tim Callan, former Research Professor at the ESRI and with significant experience in tax and welfare policy, financial incentives to work, labour supply, and income distribution
  • Dr Rory O’Donnell, former Director of the National Economic and Social Council leading analysis on a wide range of economic, social and environmental issues
  • Officials from the Departments of Children and Youth Affairs (Bernie McNally, Dr. Anne-Marie Brooks), Education and Skills and Public Expenditure and Reform

Minister Zappone continued:

“I am delighted to have secured this group of highly renowned national and international experts. They are taking on an important and challenging task, to support my department in developing additional ways to invest in Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare services in a way that will deliver better affordability for parents and better quality for children. I know that they are keen to consult with parents and providers and to have these discussions inform their recommendations. I am confident that the group will bring the full breadth and depth of their expertise to this task and l look forward to receiving their report in due course.”

The work of the group will be supported by a research partnership, a tender for which has recently been published, to deliver rigorous, evidence-based inputs to the group to allow them to explore and test various ideas.

The first meeting of the Expert Group will take place on 29th and 30th October 2019.

ENDS

Notes to the Editor:

1. Draft Terms of Reference

The Terms of Reference for the Expert Group are as follows:

  • agree a set of principles to underpin the new Funding Model in consultation and engagement with key stakeholders as required
  • review the existing approach to funding Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare services by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs in terms of its alignment with the agreed principles, as well as effectiveness in delivering on the policy objectives of quality, affordability, accessibility, and contributing to addressing disadvantage
  • drawing on international evidence, identify and consider options on how additional funding for Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare can be structured to deliver on the agreed principles and above policy objectives
  • agree a final report including a proposed design for a new Funding Model, with accompanying costings, risk analysis and mitigation and a phased implementation plan (with funding likely to become available on an incremental basis) to recommend to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and ultimately Government
2. Expert Group members’ brief biographies

Chair: Michael Scanlan

Michael Scanlan is former Secretary General, Department of Health and Children and former senior official in Department of Finance. He led the Department of Health and Children when Office of Minister for Children and Youth Affairs was under its remit during which time the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme was established. Mr Scanlan oversaw the development of the Fair Deal model of funding for nursing home care, which has parallels with the reform proposed for Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare funding. He has previously acted as chair of the Board of Tallaght Hospital.

Early Years Quality Expert: Professor Edward Melhuish, OBE

Professor Edward Melhuish is a professor of Human Development at the University of Oxford. He is a highly renowned international research expert on quality in Early Learning and Care. His work uses theoretically driven research to address applied issues and policy questions to produce improvements in development and well-being. He has led the seminal studies in this field including the Effective Provision of Pre-school Education (EPPE) and the Study of Early Education and Development (SEED) projects and the National Evaluation of Sure Start and is involved in international research across Europe and the world. He has undertaken research in 12 countries, including large-scale longitudinal studies in Norway, the UK, and Australia involving family, community and pre-school influences on child development, and policy implications. He is a director of the EU project (ISOTIS) on childhood inequality involving 11 countries, and an experienced contributor to policy development, nationally and internationally, as an advisor to OECD, WHO, and the European Commission. In 2016 he was awarded an OBE for services to Social Science, and undertakes substantial pro bono work for charities involved with child wellbeing.

Early Years Funding Expert: Professor Eva Lloyd OBE

Professor Eva Lloyd is Director of the International Centre for the Study of the Mixed Economy of Childcare and a Professor of Early Childhood in the Cass School of Education and Communities at the University of East London. She is highly specialised in the niche field of funding of childcare provision and has published widely on childcare markets and privatisation, particularly as they affect children growing up in poverty. Eva Lloyd has worked extensively with national and international policymakers and co-authored a range of UK government commissioned policy studies and evaluations. Prior to joining UEL she was a senior lecturer at Bristol University’s School for Policy Studies, having held academic positions at London University and honorary positions at the University of Cambridge and the Queen’s University Belfast. Professor Lloyd also worked in several children's NGOs; in policy and research for Save the Children and Barnardo's and as CEO of the National Early Years Network. In 2013 she was awarded an Honorary OBE for Services to Education, nominated by the UK Department of Education.

Early Years Systems Expert: Tove Mogstad Slinde, Senior Advisor

Tove Mogstad Slinde is a Senior Adviser in the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research in the Department of Kindergartens and Schools. From 2012 to 2018 she has been Chair of the Network on Early Childhood Education and Care in OECD. In the Ministry of Education and Research Tove Mogstad Slinde has been working on policy development on topics related to quality in ECEC. Since she entered the sector in 1987 she has among other things been working with governance and implementation of national policies on the regional and local levels. Representing the Ministry in international cooperation, she has been involved in the work of the OECD ECEC network (since 2008) including Starting Strong III-V, as well as a Thematic Working Group on Early Childhood Education and Care in the European Union (EU). She has also been engaged in the advisory committee for the research projects related to the quality, effectiveness and inclusiveness of ECEC; CARE and ISOTIS, funded by the EU.

Social and Economic Policy Expert: Dr Tim Callan

Dr Tim Callan is an Adjunct Full Professor at the Geary Institute in UCD and works as an independent economist. He was Research Professor at the ESRI, and Area Coordinator for its research on Taxation, Welfare & Pensions. He has published widely in national and international journals on topics including income tax and welfare policy, financial incentives to work, labour supply, and income distribution; he has also contributed to a number of edited volumes on poverty and inequality and to several international comparative projects. He is an experienced contributor to the development of policy and was a member of the Expert Working Group on Tax and Welfare and the Commission on the Family and has contributed written and oral evidence to government and parliamentary committees.

Social and Economic Policy Expert: Dr Rory O’Donnell

Dr Rory O’Donnell has recently retired as Director of the National Economic and Social Council (NESC), an organisation which advises the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) on strategic policy issues relating to sustainable economic, social and environmental development in Ireland. In his work as Economist and later Director at NESC he undertook and led analysis on a wide range of economic, social and environmental issues aimed at creation of a shared understanding within the Council and in the Irish policy system. He has written extensively on social partnership and has been spoken about social dialogue in international contexts. He was previously Jean Monet Professor of Business at University College Dublin, where he edited a review of Ireland’s first 25 years in the EU and co-authored Europe’s Experimental Union: Rethinking Integration. He holds an MSc in Economics from the University of London and a PhD from the University of Cambridge.

Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare Policy Expert: Bernie McNally

Bernie McNally was appointed Assistant Secretary General in the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) in March 2015 with responsibility for Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare and three other functional areas. Since then, Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare has grown to constitute a division of its own which Bernie leads. The work of the division includes policy, strategy and research; quality and inclusion; projects; operations; and finance and governance. Prior to her work with the DCYA, Bernie was Director General/Assistant Secretary of the Office of the Ombudsman and Information Commissioner. In her earlier career she worked as an Occupational Therapist, Director of Therapy and Social Work services in St James's Hospital, and was Chief Therapist Advisor in the Department of Health.

Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare Policy Expert: Dr Anne-Marie Brooks

Dr Anne-Marie Brooks has responsibility at Principal Officer level for the development of the First 5 Implementation Plan 2019-2021 and reporting on progress; for progressing a range of First 5 actions, including the development of a new funding model for Early Learning and Care and School-Age Childcare; and overseeing a range of research, evaluation and data projects associated with or commissioned by the Division, including the Independent Review on the Cost of Delivering Quality Childcare and the Annual Early Years Sector Profile Survey.

Early Education Policy Expert: Member to be confirmed.

Public Expenditure and Reform Policy Expert: Member to be confirmed.

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