‘At the very least, Budget 2018 must match last year’s childcare funds in order to deliver’
BIG STEP to more affordable childcare starts in the coming week.
It is good news for hard pressed families – but it must be followed by more Government actions if we are finally to change our childcare from being one of the most expensive in the world to one of the best.
The €19 million extra which will benefit families from September is important – but as we move forward it must be matched with other actions on accessibility and quality. This must include better working conditions in the sector.
The cost burden for parents is a huge challenge and had to be addressed quickly.
Our action on that starts in the coming days with phase one of an extensive information campaign in crèches, early learning centres and community centres.
Letters to 4,000 childcare providers will invite them to work with my Department to make more affordable childcare a reality from September.
For families it means every child aged between 6-months and 3-years in registered childcare will get some level of support.
The child can be in full or part-time registered childcare. There will be no minimum number of hours and no maximum number of weeks for eligibility.
In addition, we are going to cut costs for those families who need it most.
These targeted supports will be enhanced significantly with the top rate of subsidy available rising from €95 per week to €145 per week and part-time rates will increase to €80 per week.
This will help those parents who cannot enter work, training or education because they cannot pay for childcare. Those who are working on low incomes will also benefit.
Very shortly we will also be asking parents to check out a new website which will explain everything.
It has been a huge undertaking to get us to this point. However as Minister, I am determined we can and must do more.
The funds secured last year must at the very least be matched in Budget 2018 if we are serious about correcting the years of under-investment by successive Governments.
Reducing the cost is good for families. But those who provide childcare also need support. As a Government we must focus on quality and accessibility as well as affordability.