Avril McMonagle, Donegal Childcare Manager is strongly urging all 83 community managed early childhood services in County Donegal to apply for the new capital grant announced by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs last week.
The fund provides capital funding of €2.5 million for the repair, maintenance and upgrade of community and not-for-profit childcare services.
The funding will be directed towards two specific purposes:
1. Large scale maintenance works: Grants of up to €50k. This would include works to roofs, windows and doors, heating and sanitary systems, building access or safety, replacement of worn fixtures and fittings and essential repairs to outdoor play areas.
2. Quality improvement and sustainability: Grants of up to 50k for medium or large scale works to improve Building Energy Rating (BER) to support sustainability.
However, Ms McMonagle added that not all childcare facilities will be pleased by the funding announcement.
“The announcement is bitter sweet for privately managed childcare providers across Donegal. 68 of the 151 early childhood services in Donegal will not be able to apply for this funding. It is disappointing that this decision has been taken as it creates an inequality of opportunity in our sector that is totally avoidable.
“A fairer approach would have been to introduce two levels of funding – one for community managed services and one for privately managed services. This would have enabled all services across the county to upgrade facilities for children in a more equitable manner’ she said.
Ms McMonagle pointed out how childhood services could improve their chances of being successful in obtaining funding.
‘The criteria and funding limits of this programme have been designed to ensure the best possible outcome for investment, therefore, it is hugely important that early childhood services carefully review the application guidance document provided and submit applications strictly in line with this.
“Value for money is also central so any requests for funding need to be supported by realistic, comparable quotations. When the need to shortlist applications is so competitive, it is remarkable how many applications don’t get passed the first stage due to the omission of one piece of information.”
Ms McMonagle also encouraged early childhood services to ‘keep it local’ by working with local businesses and trades people when compiling quotations and awarding contracts for maintenance work.
“These can often represent best value for money and can also be used as a sound rationale as part of a funding application regarding access to follow up or additional works.”
The programme is now open for applications via the Pobal website www.pobal.ie. For advice and assistance to complete the application please contact Donegal County Childcare on 074 9123442 and ask to speak to a Childcare Development Officer who will provide support and advice regarding the application and appraisal process.