Childcare ‘It Starts Now’ launched:€19m in Extra Supports for families

By August 1, 2017 No Comments

Government funding of €4m is being provided to improve childcare services for children of school going age and make life easier for parents and families.

The announcement comes as the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, and Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, launch the latest phase of a national awareness campaign to make families aware of increased supports starting next month (Sept).

The first two strands of this funding announced today will help create over 5,000 extra childcare places in 225 school age childcare services. A third strand will be announced in the coming weeks.

The extra spaces will further increase capacity ahead of new childcare supports which will benefit up to 70,000 children from September.

The next phase of a national awareness campaign will encourage parents to check out their children’s entitlements under the banner ‘It Starts Now’. This is part of ongoing efforts across Government to support parents and families through a range of policies.

Families are being encouraged to visit a special website www.affordablechildcare.ie which has already recorded more than quarter of a million visits.

At the launch of the campaign the Taoiseach said:

“In just three weeks’ time, up to 70,000 children will be able to register for a range of childcare subsidies put in place by the Government of Ireland to honour our commitment to make childcare more affordable for families. For the first time, a universal, non-means tested childcare subsidy will be available for children aged six months to three years. This amounts to a maximum of €1,040 per year, for some the cost of one month of childcare. We will also be providing extra support for parents on lower incomes going back to work or education, providing as much as €145 per week towards the cost of their childcare.

“In a Republic of Opportunity everyone should have the chance to access employment and education. Childcare can often be a barrier to this, whereas it should be a bridge to opportunity for parents, their children and our economy. These new subsidies will create greater parental choice and financial support for families so they can achieve their full potential. I’m delighted that investment made this year will help families begin to feel a difference in their pockets from September. I urge everyone with children in childcare to visit affordablechildcare.ie to see the supports available to their family.”

Minister Zappone added

“The first big step is being taken to accessible affordable quality childcare. Through our awareness campaign we are reaching out to parents and telling them how they can benefit from the extra €19m in family supports now just four weeks away.

There are two ways in which supports will be delivered. A universal support to every child aged 6-months to 3-years-old and then targeted supports for those families which need it most – this second category covers children up to 15-years of age.

Ensuring capacity for school age children is important to reach our goals in terms of accessibility and quality. The funding of €4m announced today will help us to get there.

I am delighted that 225 projects have been identified in the first two rounds of this funding, with the remainder to be announced shortly.

Our childcare goals are ambitious. They have to be. I remain fully committed to work with parents and providers so we can finally turn one of the most expensive childcare systems in the world into the best.”