To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if he will provide the services carried out on behalf of his Department by Pobal; the financial amount paid by his Department for the administration of such services; if there are measures in place to review the programmes and schemes operated so that duplication is avoided and public money is spent as effectively as possible; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Seán Kyne
Reply: Minister for Children and Youth Affairs
Pobal provides a significant level of service to my Department and it would be impossible to deliver the various Departmental programmes without Pobal’s support. The majority of these services relate to Early Years programmes and services, some of which are:
– Conducting contractual compliance visits to participating childcare services under the large-scale Early Years funding programmes: Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), Childcare Education and Training Support (CETS) and CCS and payment administration, accounting and reporting for CCS and CETS;
– Managing a range of capital funding programmes and commitments (including the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme; the National Childcare Investment Programme; and early years capital schemes in 2012, 2013 and 2014). The role includes application, appraisal and contract management as well as verification of the capital expenditure which involves on-site visits to a sample of projects;
– The management of the Early Years Practitioners Learner Fund 2014-2015 including the procurement of training providers and the administration, accounting and reporting of the funding.
– The development, delivery and management of business processes, systems and infrastructure to improve the supports provided to beneficiaries and the management of the state’s investment in the early years sector, including on-line funding application and appraisal processes for capital and for the Learner Fund; Pobal maps, hosting of Tusla inspection report
Pobal also provides a number of other services to other aspects of the Departments’ remit, including for example grant management and support in relation the Area Based Childhood (ABC) Programme, and support for the National Early Years Access Initiative, the youth capital, youth services and youth cafe programmes, the School Completion Progamme and the Family Contact Centre Pilot Initiative as well as for Comhairle na nOg.
- There is ongoing review of programmes to ensure effectiveness and that there is no duplication. The very strong data management role that Pobal plays is a key factor in the Departments ability to review and assess programmes effectiveness, efficiency and value for money
- In 2013 my Department paid a total of €5.7 million to Pobal for these services. The figure for 2014 is likely be similar; some services have been added in , e.g. the Learner Fund for the Early Years sector and some have been reduced or were more resource intensive in 2013, e.g publication of inspection reports.The total budget for the services that Pobal deals with is of the order of €300 million annually so the cost of the work Pobal does on the Department’s behalf is approximately 2% of the total cost of the programmes.