Dr. Katherine Zappone announces launch of the National Childcare Scheme

Dr. Katherine Zappone announces launch of the National Childcare Scheme

Minister  for  Children  and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, has today announced  the  launch  of  the  National  Childcare Scheme, the pathway to quality,  accessible,  affordable  Early  Learning  and Care and School-Age Childcare in Ireland.

Affordable Childcare Scheme renamed as National Childcare Scheme 

“In  2017  we  began  to  build  a  radical new system of financial support towards  the  cost  of  childcare under the working title of the Affordable Childcare Scheme.  Today, with the scheme now in sight, we are launching it under its new name- the National Childcare Scheme.

The  National  Childcare Scheme is a landmark new Scheme for Ireland. It is the  first  ever  statutory entitlement to financial support for childcare. Through  this  entitlement,  the  National Childcare Scheme aims to improve children’s  outcomes,  support  lifelong learning, reduce child poverty and tangibly  reduce  the  cost  of quality childcare for thousands of families
across Ireland.”

National Communications Campaign 

The  Minister  also  announced  a  national Communications Campaign for the Scheme  to  raise  awareness and help both parents and providers to prepare for the Scheme’s opening in October.  The campaign includes:

Ø          The launch of a new website- www.ncs.gov.ie
Ø          The  publication  of  a  range  of  information resources, including general  information  leaflets,  detailed  booklets and Frequently Asked Questions.   Further  resources,  such as online videos, ‘how to guides’ and  a  useful  childcare  subsidy  calculator,  will  be added in the months ahead
Ø         A  dedicated helpline from April onwards for parents who have queries
in relation to the new Scheme
Ø         A  nationwide training programme for providers, providing over 12,500
training  places across 600 venues, with webinars and e-learning options
also available (available to book via Eventbrite from today)
Ø     A media campaign in May encouraging parents to get a MyGovID verified
account  so  that  they  can  access  the  Scheme  in  the fastest, most
user-friendly way

New website for further information

Ø         A major information campaign in September and October

An  overview  of  the timeline of key events taking place between March and October 2019 will be available on the new website- www.ncs.gov.ie.

The  Minister  was joined at the launch by An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, T.D. Speaking at the launch, An Taoiseach said:

“This  Government is making life easier for families. We’ve introduced paid paternity  leave  for  dads,  increased  maternity  benefit,  extended free pre-school  to  2  years for all children, reduced the amount of income tax paid  by  middle  income  families,  made  free  GP  care available to more families  and we’ll be bringing in paid parental benefit for the first time
later this year.

“We  realise  that childcare costs are a huge financial burden on families, so  we  want  to  make it easier and more affordable to access high quality childcare. The cost of childcare can act as a barrier to parents to want to return  to  work, but who are worried about how much it will cost to do so. It  can  also  be  obstacle  to  parents  who want to take up education and training.

“The  National Childcare Scheme will change that by providing universal and income-linked subsidies.  As well as helping parents it will of course helpus to achieve better outcomes for children.”

Recognising  the  central  role  of  childcare providers, the Minister also announced  a  once-off Transition Support Payment which will be paid to all providers who participate in the Scheme.  The payment acknowledges the work involved  in the initial transition period when both the new Scheme and the old  legacy  programmes  will  briefly  run side by side. In announcing the
payment,  the Minister also emphasised her gratitude for the dedication and commitment  demonstrated  by  those  in  the  Early  Learning  and Care and School-Age Childcare sector.

Under the National Childcare Scheme, families will be supported to meet the cost  of quality childcare through a system of universal and income-related subsides.  Additional  funding  provided  under Budget 2019 ensures an even greater  number of families will now benefit from the Scheme when it opens. The  significant  increase  in  the top net income threshold to €60,000 net income  per  year  means  that  an estimated 7,500 additional children will benefit from the Scheme, with over 40,000 other children, already eligible, seeing increases to their subsidies.

The  National  Childcare  Scheme  is paving the way for Ireland’s childcare system to transform from one of the most expensive in the world into one of the very best.