Dáil Éireann - Volume 533 - 27 March, 2001
Written Answers. - Child Care Facilities.
Mr. Coveney Mr. Coveney
 268. Mr. Coveney asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on whether primary school facilities, with some investment and alteration, can provide ideal child care facilities; if he has plans in this area; the time schedule for such a service; and if there is funding available for such a service. [8892/01]
Mr. O'Donoghue Mr. O'Donoghue
Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue): As the Deputy may be aware, my Department has been given responsibility for leading the development of child care service delivery in Ireland. Funding of £250 million was allocated to my Department under the national development plan. This funding, which has a focus on equal opportunities and social inclusion, is being promoted as the Equal Opportunities Child Care Programme 2000-2006. The overall aims of the programme are to improve the quality of child care in Ireland, to increase the number of child care facilities and child care places and to introduce a co-ordinated approach to the delivery of child care services. In addition to this £250 million, my Department was allocated £26.5 million in 2001 as part of the Government's £40 million anti-inflationary package for child care.
Following a recent decision of the Cabinet sub-committee on social inclusion aimed at streamlining the processing of applications for child care facilities, responsibility for £12.5 million towards the child care initiatives targeted at schools has now transferred to my Department from the Department of Education and Science. Of this, £2.5 million is intended to promote the release of spare classrooms for use as child care facilities. Under this initiative, grants will be made available to schools where the management makes spare classrooms available for the provision of child care. The funding available could cover the refurbishment of the classroom as well as heating or insurance costs.
Prior to the transfer of responsibility for this funding to my Department, the Minister for Education and Science had arranged for a survey of schools to be carried out to ascertain if spare classrooms were available that could be used for child care. This survey involved both primary and post-primary schools. Area Development Management Limited, who administer child care funding measures on behalf of my Department, is now following up on the responses received from the schools in terms of the practicality of the rooms for use as child care facilities. Some £5 million will be used to support schools who develop and manage schools based after school hours child care. It is envisaged that this funding will be targeted at schools and communities which experience significant disadvantage while the remaining £5 million will be open to all schools. These initiatives are still in the developmental stage. Both primary and post-primary schools will be involved.
 In addition to its responsibility for the development of child care services in school settings, my Department has also recently taken on responsibility for the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs community based out of school hours child care scheme to which £5 million had been allocated.
Dáil Éireann 533 Written Answers. Child Care Facilities.