€45m announced under the Building Blocks – Capacity Grant
Grants in early 2024 for Early Learning and Childcare Services to expand their
capacity by means of internal renovations
Grants from mid-2024 for Early Learning and Childcare Services to deliver larger
scale extensions to their premises by the end of 2025
Targeted Grant will deliver thousands of Early Learning and Childcare places in
areas of undersupply Building Blocks – Capacity Grant Press Release
Roderic O’Gorman, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, has today
announced a €45m Capital Grant for the Early Learning and Childcare Sector. The Building
Blocks – Capacity Grant is part of a wider Building Blocks Capital Programme for Early Learning
and Childcare under the revised National Development Plan 2021-2030 (NDP).
The purpose of the Building Blocks – Capacity Grant is to address capacity gaps by expanding
existing provision and investing in the development of new provision where most needed.
The primary focus of the Capacity Grant is to increase capacity in the 1-3 age range for full
day or part-time care. Places for children under age 1 will also be eligible for funding. The
Capacity Grant will be open to Core Funding partner services.
The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth is undertaking a
detailed needs analysis of supply and demand for Early Learning and Childcare. This analysis
will identify areas of undersupply across the country and will allow the funding to be
targeted at areas most in need.
Welcoming the announcement, Minister O’Gorman said “This Capacity Grant will deliver
thousands of Early Learning and Childcare places in areas where they are needed most. It will
build on the success of significant capital investment in the sector over the past twenty years,
including the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme and the National Childcare
Investment Programme through which the State has funded more than 90,000 places”.
He added “the implementation of capital funding on this basis will deliver supply for age
categories and service providers where there is proven need. By adopting this approach, my
Department will ensure that services ready to expand capacity through smaller-scale
renovations and upgrades can begin works in early 2024. Services will also be afforded time
to prepare larger-scale project plans, where needed, to submit applications under the scheme,
and to commence those projects during 2024. The network of City and County Childcare
Committees will act as a support for services considering applying for funding.”
In addition to the Building Blocks – Capacity Grant, the Department of Children, Equality,
Disability, Integration and Youth is progressing a range of actions to ensure the supply of Early
Learning and Childcare meets demand, including:
The regulation of childminders under the National Action Plan for Childminding, which
will allow the National Childcare Scheme to open to parents who use childminders
from autumn 2024;
Updating the 2001 Planning Guidelines for Local Authorities on Early Learning and
Childcare Settings in partnership with the Department of Housing, Local Government
and Heritage; and
The ongoing development of Core Funding which has given rise to a significant
expansion of places since the scheme was first introduced. The allocation for year 2 of
this scheme provided for a 3% growth in capacity, which has materialised, and the
allocation of year 3 of the scheme provides for further growth of 3%.
Minister O’Gorman also noted the current difficulties around staff recruitment and retention,
which are the largest constraint on capacity growth in the sector. The historic Employment
Regulation Orders (ERO) introduced last year, supported by Core Funding, were a significant
milestone in efforts to improve pay in the sector, with an additional €4 million allocated in
year 2 of Core Funding to support the removal of the 3-year experience rule for graduate
premiums, subject to updated ERO, which are under negotiation by the independent Joint
Labour Committee. In addition, the workforce plan for the sector – Nurturing Skills – includes
specific actions to support the recruitment and retention of staff.
Minister O’Gorman thanked the network of thirty City and County Childcare Committees,
who, along with Pobal, are working closely with his Department on the design and delivery of
the Building Blocks schemes.
Note for Editors:
The Capacity Grant will be split into two strands, an Expansion Grant Scheme, and a largerscale Extension Grant Scheme. Both schemes will operate from 2024.
Key features of the Expansion Grant Scheme:
€15m will be made available from early 2024 to providers to fund expansion projects
in areas of identified undersupply
priority will be given to delivering full-time and part-time places within the 1-3 age
group. Places for children under age 1 will also be eligible for funding.
projects of between €50,000 and €100,000 will be funded to deliver additional
capacity, e.g. where services can renovate/upgrade existing space to cater for more
match funding will be required of privately owned services, with a maximum
contribution by the Department of 50% of total project costs. Match funding will not
be required of community-led services.
Key features of the Extension Grant Scheme:
funding to be made available to providers later in 2024, to commence larger-scale
expansion projects that will be completed in 2025. Total funding available for this
Scheme will be €20m
projects of between €100,000 and €500,000, will be funded
priority will be given to the expansion of full-time and part-time places within the 1-3
age groups, within areas of identified undersupply
match funding will be required of private services, with a maximum contribution by
the Department of 50% of total project costs. Match funding will not be required of
Service providers may be awarded funding under one of the Expansion Grant Scheme or
Extension Grant Scheme only. The allocation of funding under the Capacity Grant will be
informed by the results of a detailed needs analysis, which is underway, and which will
identify capacity gaps and areas and categories of need.
The remaining €10m has been earmarked for a range of capital expenditure programmes,
including childminding initiatives, ICT investment and sustainability capital projects. Further
details of these programmes will issue in the coming months.
Issued by the Press and Communications Office at the Department of Children, Equality,
Disability, Integration and Youth.
Tel: 01 647 – 3153/3114