Substantial progress in increasing access to affordable and quality childcare
The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone TD, has today welcomed the findings from the EU Commission European Semester Country Report for Ireland 2019.
In its annual assessment of Ireland’s progress on the Country Specific Recommendations in 2019, the Commission concluded that Ireland had made ‘substantial progress in increasing access to affordable and quality childcare’.
141% increase in investment in early learning
The Report attributes this progress to a range of factors, including extended provision of universal pre-school provided under the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme, the introduction of the National Childcare Scheme (NCS) and increased State investment.
Welcoming the findings of the Report, Minister Zappone said: “A key priority for me as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs has been to reduce the cost of high-quality early learning and care and school-age childcare to parents and bring it into line with EU norms. Since 2015, there has been a 141% increase in investment in early learning and care and school-age childcare and a doubling in the number of children in receipt of State subsidies who are now enrolling in these services.
“Addressing the affordability, accessibility and quality of early learning and care and school-age childcare remains a key priority. The ambitious programme of reform that has been committed to in First 5 will ensure we can continue to build on the substantial progress that has already been made.”