Child care policy, including the delivery and/or expansion of child care services, is the responsibility of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (D/CYA).
The reforms to the one-parent family payment have highlighted the need for child care supports to be available for lone parents who make the transition into employment. My Department in conjunction with the D/CYA, introduced the after-school child care scheme and the community employment childcare programme in 2013 and 2014 respectively. Both of these schemes were funded by my Department from savings from the child benefit scheme and build on the 25,000 subsidised childcare places provided by the D/CYA each year. In Budget 2015, I introduced increases to the child benefit rate, the partial restoration of the Christmas bonus, as well as the back to work family dividend (BTWFD), all of which provide additional financial assistance to parents.
The Government’s Spring Economic Statement acknowledged that a successful childcare policy helps people to transition from welfare to employment. The interdepartmental group’s report will be a key input in determining the future of childcare provision in Ireland. I look forward to reviewing the group’s report and considering it with my Cabinet colleagues.