Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Questions (84)

Anne Rabbitte


84. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if payments will be backdated to parents who applied for the national childcare scheme but whose applications have not been processed to date. [51519/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

The National Childcare Scheme went live on the 20th November 2019. The Scheme is designed to improve the accessibility and affordability of quality childcare for families in Ireland. Through the National Childcare Scheme and a range of other measures, I am committed to changing Ireland’s childcare system from one of the most expensive in the world to one of the very best.

I am delighted that there has been a very high volume of applications since the Scheme opened for online applications. As of the 9th December over 12,000 applications have been submitted, relating to over 17,000 children. Awards are now being issued to parents. Parents must bring this award to their childcare provider and once their provider has registered the details, payments will begin to flow.

It has always been communicated by my Department that subsidy awards are payable from the week they are claimed, and not the date of application. It is a key aspect of the scheme that all claims are paid in arrears based on the attendance of a child and as agreed between the parent and provider. As such the child must be registered with a childcare provider and the provider must confirm that attendance. This is a key financial and governance control to ensure we are maximising the benefits of public monies and that the investment is following the child.

When opening the Scheme three weeks ago, I asked the public to please bear with us while we get this major, innovative new initiative up and running. The Scheme Administrator, Pobal, is working intensively to process the very large volume of applications received so far. The first subsidies under the Scheme have been paid but the numbers will grow significantly in the coming days.

It is important to note that a significant number of applicants are likely to be in receipt of an existing childcare support payment, and this payment will continue right up until their NCS award has been registered with their provider, thus enabling a seamless flow of funding from the old scheme to the new.