Childcare funding to be focus of James Reilly group

Body to provide blueprint to end ad-hoc finance arrangements for children

Significant changes in the funding of childcare are expected to emerge from a high-level group established by Minister for Children James Reilly which meets today for the first time.

Dr Reilly told The Irish Times the group will provide a blueprint to end the ad-hoc funding arrangements which have applied to childcare up to now: "The establishment of the interdepartmental group on childcare investments is one of the most important groups to have been formed in recent times."

“Our children are too important. We must be certain that our investment in this area is as effective as possible giving the best outcomes to children, young people and their parents,” he said.

Dr Reilly will address the interdepartmental group which will meet in the Department of Children today.


The Minister will outline the objective of establishing a fully coherent integrated set of policies capable of consolidating the current range of schemes into a whole-of-Government approach.

At present the system is characterised by schemes ranging from universal ones, such as child benefit and the pre-school year, to more targeted schemes such as childcare subvention and training.

Dr Reilly is expected to charge the group with looking at the current model of childcare to see if better results can be arrived at with the same level of subvention. The group will not be restricted to coming up with suggestions that do not involve any increase in the overall level of spending.

The members will also be asked to cost a list of options for future investment by Government and to recommend priorities for implementation.

However, the Minister is expected to stress he is looking for a menu of properly costed options and not an expensive shopping list of proposals not in the realm of practical implementation.

Early years

Dr Reilly will tell the group that well-organised, properly planned services for young children and those of schoolgoing age are essential to promote good outcomes for children. All the evidence is attention to the early-years sector pays off in terms of happier, better-adjusted children who do well in school, form better relationships and have better mental health.

Today's meeting will be chaired by the secretary general of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, Fergal Lynch, and attended by senior civil servants from the Departments of the Taoiseach and Finance, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the Department of Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation, and the Departments of Education and Social Protection.

A technical paper will be presented to the meeting, and a work schedule is to be discussed. The group is expected to report by the summer.

Stephen Collins

Stephen Collins

Stephen Collins is a columnist with and former political editor of The Irish Times