The Childcare Support Act 2018 makes provision for specific statutory bodies to access childcare to support vulnerable children and families and for the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to enter into formal agreements with the various bodies for these purposes. Engagement is ongoing between my officials and each of the bodies in relation to the terms of agreements under which vulnerable children will be referred to the scheme. The terms of each agreement will include such matters as the qualifying criteria under which children will be referred.
Engagement is very advanced and is progressing well. It is anticipated that agreements will be in place with each of the bodies before the launch of the National Childcare Scheme in the Autumn.
Where a referral is made by a sponsor body, the families will automatically qualify for a subsidy without having to satisfy any income test. The agreement between the Minister and each sponsor body will specify details under which children will be referred, including age limits having regard to the provisions of the Act.
Training will be provided for frontline staff who will be involved in the referral of vulnerable children to the National Childcare Scheme under sponsor agreements. Detailed and comprehensive training sessions, tailored specifically for referrals under sponsor arrangements, will be made available to staff in the various bodies. The training programme will commence in the coming months.