Friday, 6 September 2019

Questions (1716)

Róisín Shortall


1716. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the funding provided under the affordable childcare scheme. [36663/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

The National Childcare Scheme is a new, national scheme of financial support to help parents with the cost of quality childcare. The development of the Scheme is a significant move forward in delivering quality, accessible, affordable childcare to families throughout Ireland.

The Scheme provides a universal subsidy to all families with children under 3 years, as well as families with children over 3 years who have not yet qualified for the free pre-school programme. The universal subsidy is not means-tested and provides 50c per hour towards the cost of a registered childcare place for up to 40 hours per week.

Income-related subsidies differentiated by age of up to €5.10 per hour for babies will be available for up to 40 hours per week, for families using registered childcare. This means that maximum subsidy for a child under 1 will be €204 per week (€10,600 per annum)- a significant increase on the current maximum targeted rate of €145 per week.

The full cost of the scheme is very much dependant on parental actions as they transition from legacy schemes, and choices with regard to forms of childcare informed by the new scheme. Estimates with regard to the scheme uptake are informed by a number of factors including:

- establishing the number of families with children eligible for the scheme by income bracket (2016 data supplied by CSO),

- profiling these families by reference to the age of their children,

- estimating the proportion of children in each income bracket and age range using registered early learning and care,

- calculating estimated subsidy rates based on income levels and age profile, and

- applying estimates of the average hours used by age group for term time and non-term time.

It has previously been estimated that the first year of operation of the scheme would require €200m, much of which is available through the targeted schemes. The cost for 2020 is currently being examined in the context of the Estimates process.

The National Childcare Scheme has been designed to be flexible, with income thresholds, maximum hours and subsidy rates which can be adjusted in line with Government decisions and as more investment becomes available. As such, it establishes a sustainable platform for investment in early learning and care and school age childcare for years to come.