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Affordable Childcare Scheme

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 24 July 2018

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Questions (2354)

Brendan Smith

Question:

2354. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs when further details of the new affordable childcare scheme will be made available; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35120/18]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

The development of the affordable childcare scheme is a core component in delivering a childcare infrastructure that provides access to quality, affordable childcare to families throughout Ireland.

Bearing this in mind, I am delighted to report that good progress is being made by officials at my Department in developing the various elements of the scheme in preparation for its launch.

This development involves intensive work across legislative, ICT, administrative, governance and communications areas.

With regard to the legislation establishing the new affordable childcare scheme, the Childcare Support Act 2018 was signed by the President on Monday, 2 July.  The Act will be underpinned by detailed secondary legislation and formal policy guidelines.  Work is currently ongoing on both of these and also on the development of regulations to provide, for the first time, for the registration of school-age childcare services by the Tusla early years inspectorate.  These latter regulations will be introduced in advance of the Affordable Childcare Scheme to allow school-age childcare services to register and thereby participate in the scheme from its inception.

With regard to the ICT system to underpin the scheme, my Department has just concluded a full open tender public procurement process and I have awarded a contract for the development of the system.  The launch of the scheme is dependent on this ICT system.  As such, now that a contractor is in place, my officials are finalising a detailed project plan and I will shortly confirm and communicate a planned start date for the affordable childcare scheme.

In the meantime, as of 20 July, the families of more than 80,000 children have availed of the universal and targeted childcare subsidies introduced last September to reduce the cost of childcare. More than 38,000 children have been registered for the new, non means tested subsidy of up to €1,040 per year for children under three; representing a saving of between four to six week's full time childcare cost, depending on which part of the country families live. These supports will remain in place until the full launch of the affordable childcare scheme.

Information on childcare schemes is currently available at www.affordablechildcare.ie

My Department is committed to delivering a national communications campaign for parents and providers in advance of the launch of the affordable childcare scheme.

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