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Childcare Services Administration

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 22 October 2019

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Questions (559)

Seán Sherlock


559. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if parents must have a public services card to avail of the national childcare scheme. [43234/19]

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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 for the Scheme 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 such security in the safeguarding of applicants' information and the administration of public funding.

For online applicants, the PSC has authenticated their identity to SAFE 2 level, which is the highest standard available for the public service. Where a postal application is used, applicants are required to provide proof of identity alongside their application. 

The Scheme will launch to online applications on 20th November, with payments flowing from 25th November. Following expert advice regarding the launch of the new Scheme, the online application process is being introduced first, followed shortly thereafter in January 2020 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 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 PSC, 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. The thousands of families already availing of current childcare schemes can remain on their current subsidy payment or switch over to the National Childcare Scheme, depending on their preference.