Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Questions (316)

Terence Flanagan


316. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will re examine increasing the number of child care places, currently 6,000, in order to allow for help for one parent families who face a cut in payment from July; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12596/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

I am very conscious that the forthcoming changes to the one-parent family payment (OFP) scheme highlight the need for additional supports to be in place for lone parents who will be affected by these changes. In particular, there will be a need for additional after-school child care provision to be made available in order to assist former OFP recipients to make their transition into activation and employment. The joint child care initiative that Minister Fitzgerald and I announced as part of Budget 2013 is in recognition of the support that these individuals will require. This initiative will provide approximately 6,000 after-school child care places for low-income families and social welfare income support recipients who gain employment and who have children of primary school age.

Officials from my Department, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (D/CYA), and the Department of Education and Skills (D/ES) are presently working out the exact parameters of the scheme, which will be launched on a phased basis during 2013, commencing with a pilot in April, 2013.

The after-school childcare scheme is being funded from savings of €14 million coming from within my Department. The D/CYA has confirmed that this equates to approximately 6,000 after-school childcare places including full-day care for school holidays. Given the current fiscal constraints it is not possible to allocate any additional funding to the scheme and so the number of places cannot be increased at this time.