Thursday, 3 October 2019

Questions (320)

Catherine Murphy


320. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if a public services card must be produced in order to access aspects of the national childcare scheme; if persons have been refused access to the scheme for not being a holder of or in possession of a public services card since the card was introduced; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40258/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

The National Childcare Scheme has always been designed, such that, when it is fully up and running, applications will be accepted both online and by post.  A Public Services Card (PSC) and verified MyGovID account are required to apply online only. The online system will offer a user friendly and effective system for parents, whilst offering greater efficiency in the administration and costs associated with the operation of a Government scheme. A secure identity verification system is required for any such IT system, and the Public Services Card and MyGovID offers this security in the safeguarding of applicants' information and the administration of public funding.

The Scheme has not yet launched. It is targeted to launch on 29th October, with payments flowing from November. Following expert advice regarding the launch of the new Scheme, the online application process will be introduced first, followed shortly thereafter by the paper based application process. 

With regard to the report by the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) into the PSC, the Government and the Attorney General have carefully considered the findings of the report, including the legal basis for the use of the PSC by specified bodies or persons (such as the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs). The Government has agreed to challenge the findings of the report, as based on the legal advice received, it does not believe the DPC’s findings are correct in law. 

The advice of the Attorney General’s Office is that there is a strong legal basis for the continued public service wide use of the PSC. 

The Department of Children and Youth Affairs remains committed to delivering the National Childcare Scheme as planned and, in so doing, assisting thousands of families to access high quality and affordable early learning and care and school age childcare. Over 3.2 million of the population already have the card, many of whom it is believed are the parents of young children who may be interested in the subsidies available under the National Childcare Scheme. Those families already availing of current targeted childcare schemes do not require the card and they can remain on these schemes until end of August and, as such, will not require the card.