Highest levels of supports for families with the lowest incomes
Statement by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone
and Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar
Government has agreed its plan to make childcare more affordable from September using the additional €19m of childcare funding agreed in Budget 2017.
Minister Katherine Zappone said: “Today we agreed the next step towards affordable, accessible quality childcare. The Government has approved a range of financial measures that will see more than 70,000 families benefit from reduced childcare costs from September.
To ensure that parents and childcare providers understand these childcare supports and how to access them, my colleagues in Cabinet also approved a public information campaign starting next month.
Moving from one of the most expensive childcare systems in the world to the best is ambitious. It is a journey we will take one step at a time. Today we are confirming that parents of 70,000 children will start feeling the benefit in their pockets from September. This is a significant step forward.”
Children aged from 6 months through to 15 years will benefit with the highest levels of supports aimed at those families with the lowest incomes.
Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar said: “'A lack of access to affordable childcare is one of the main barriers to employment and further education for many parents. The action the Government is now taking builds on progress made already like the two years of free pre-school, extended maternity leave and the introduction of paternity leave with universal subsides for all children under 3 and targeted additional support for low and middle income families. It's a major step forward and will open up opportunities for more parents to enter the workforce, secure new qualifications and improve living standards for themselves and their families.”
The public information campaign will provide detailed information, through a variety of sources, to ensure everyone who needs to find out more will be able to so.
It will be targeted at low-income families and those with children under three years old. It will also target more than 3,000 childcare providers through the country.
The childcare supports available from this September will include:
A new universal childcare subsidy for children aged from 6 months up to 36 months old (or commencement of the free pre-school programme). This new universal childcare subsidy will benefit up to 33,000 children. For children in full-time, registered childcare, it will amount to €1,000 per annum.
Significant increases of up to 50 per cent in childcare subvention rates provided under the Community Childcare Subvention Scheme for children aged from 6 months up to 15 years old:
Up to 23,000 children and their families currently availing of childcare supports under this Scheme will benefit from these increases. For example, parents availing of full-time childcare who currently have had their childcare costs subsidised by €95 per week under this Scheme will see their subvention rate rise to €145 per week.
Up to 7,000 additional children and their families are expected to benefit from this Scheme for the first time from September due to improved access to this Scheme through a greater number of community/not-for-profit and private childcare providers throughout the country. These children and their families too will benefit from these generous increases in childcare subvention rates.
Children and families can avail of these new levels of childcare subsidies under a number of circumstances, including if they are in receipt of the Family Income Supplement or of they have a medical card or a GP only card.
The Department of Children and Youth Affairs is working with the Department of Social Protection, Pobal and a number of Government Departments to build a fully automated online system which will ultimately be used to access and administer childcare supports.
When that online system is available, existing levels of investment will allow a further 9,000 families to benefit from more affordable childcare, through childcare subsidies of up to €12 per week.
The online system will provide a user-friendly means for parents to access childcare supports and will also help improve the administrative efficiency.
The new online system will provide an infrastructure from which future investment in childcare can be delivered – it is a major project which will benefit generations to come.
It will allow, for example, increased investment to be directed to families on higher incomes over time.
The measures announced today will be good for low-income families and for families with children under three years old.
The public information campaign agreed today will assist families determine what childcare supports are available from September 2017 and what childcare will become available in the future.
NOTE FOR EDITORS
Objective of measures agreed by Government are to:
Ensure that access to affordable childcare facilitates labour market participation;
Promote positive child outcomes;
Narrow the gap in access high quality, affordable childcare;
Drive quality across the childcare sector and,
Contribute to poverty reduction in Ireland.
Questions and Answers for Parents and Providers