Childcare policy and the provision of childcare is the responsibility of my colleague Minister, Deputy Frances Fitzgerald, and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. The Department of Children and Youth Affairs currently administers the Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) programme and the Childcare Employment and Training Support Scheme (CETS). CCS funds some 1,000 community-based non-profit child care facilities nationwide to enable them to charge reduced childcare fees to disadvantaged and low-income families who avail of their services. The scheme is available to social welfare recipients and to non-jobseekers if they have low incomes. CETS is implemented by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs on behalf of FÁS and the VECs. Under this scheme, parents who are FÁS/VEC trainees and who need assistance with child care costs to access education and training courses in order to enter or return to employment, can access subsidised child care places.
As a result of the reforms to the one-parent family payment (OFP) scheme, once an OFP recipient’s youngest child reaches the relevant age threshold, they will no longer be entitled to the OFP payment. It is expected that the majority of individuals who will continue to have an income support need will apply for either the jobseeker’s allowance (JA) scheme or the recently announced jobseeker’s allowance transition (JST) arrangement.
The JST arrangement will cater for OFP recipients who will lose their entitlement to the OFP payment, who have a youngest child aged under 14 years, and who are entitled to the JA payment. These customers will be exempt from certain JA conditionalities that require them to be available for and genuinely seeking full-time work. This in turn reduces the need for child care support for these customers as they will have the option of remaining in the home to take care of their children.
Lone parents who have an entitlement to jobseekers and who have children under 14 years of age, who are attending primary school, may wish to avail of the subsidised after-school child care scheme. This scheme is available to jobseekers that avail of an employment opportunity. Lone parents will also be able to apply for the other Department of Children and Youth Affairs childcare schemes.
In addition to these supports lone parents who lose entitlement to their OFP payment and who are working 19 hours or more per week, can apply for the family income supplement (FIS). If they are eligible for FIS they can also apply for the existing D/CYA childcare schemes.