Expert Group tasked with developing a new funding model for early learning and care and school-age childcare
Expert Group is independently chaired by Michael Scanlan, former Secretary General of the Department of Health and Children
Extensive programme of engagement and consultation with key stakeholders for the project including with children, parents, the workforce and providers to take place
The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone TD, today (Tuesday) addressed the inaugural meeting of the Expert Group tasked with developing a new funding model for early learning and care and school-age childcare.
Delivering on a commitment in First 5: A Whole-of-Government Strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families 2019-2028,
the Expert Group has been convened to examine the current model of funding for early learning and care and school-age childcare and its effectiveness in delivering quality, affordable, sustainable and inclusive services. The Group will make recommendations on how additional funding for the sector can be structured to deliver on these objectives going forward.
The Expert Group is independently chaired by Michael Scanlan, former Secretary General of the Department of Health and Children, and includes national and international experts in Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare systems; funding and quality; economics; and relevant policy experts from Government Departments as 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 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), Public Expenditure and Reform (Niamh Callaghan) and Education and Skills
Addressing the Group this morning the Minister reflected on the significant progress that has been made in recent years in transforming the system for early learning and care and school-age childcare. For example, the numbers of children benefitting from State supported early learning and childcare has more than doubled since 2015. Free-pre-school provided under the ECCE Programme has increased from one year to two years. Supports have been put in place for children with additional learning needs to access this Programme and there have been very significant increases in subsidies for families who need it most.
The Minister also noted the challenges that remain, including the cost of early learning and care and school-age childcare to families, which remains higher in Ireland than in other OECD countries and the quality of provision, which remains variable. The Minister also restated her support for better pay and conditions for staff in the sector given the critical role they play in supporting young children’s early learning and development and providing a safe and caring environment.
The Minister said:“In the First 5 Strategy we have pledged to double investment in early learning and care and school-age childcare over the next 10 years. But more funding, even if it reaches record levels, is only part of the answer. We now need to ensure that public funding is allocated efficiently, fairly and that it is targeted in the correct manner, not just to families most in need, but within settings, to where it can make the greatest difference from a quality perspective.”“Investment must continue to reduce the out of pocket cost to parents. It must compensate providers so that they can deliver early learning and care and school-age on a sustainable and high-quality basis. It must be used to attract and retain a well-qualified. It must be directed towards creating more supportive working conditions, where the workforce feel valued, where there is time for preparation, for reflection and for parental engagement, among other things.”
The Minister described the funding model as the:“crucial mechanism to address challenges in the sector and to channel additional State investment.”
The Expert Group will meet 12 times in total over the next two years and their recommendations will submitted to Government for approval.
A research partner will also be contracted to deliver rigorous, evidence-based inputs that will support the work of the Group. They will, under the direction of the Group, lead an extensive programme of engagement and consultation with the key stakeholders for the project including with children, parents, the workforce and providers.
Notes to the Editor:
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) and will be a crucial mechanism to deliver additional investment for Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare in order to improve affordability for parents, sustainability of providers, conditions for staff and, most importantly, quality of services for children.
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
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 well-being.
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 and 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.
Public Expenditure and Reform Policy Expert: Niamh Callaghan
Niamh Callaghan is a Principal Officer at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and Head of the Vote Section for the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.
Early Education Policy Expert: Member to be confirmed