Free preschool measures not expected to be introduced until September 2016

Parents of children paying for pre-school care will not benefit from the childcare measures announced in Budget 2016.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said the €1.1 billion increase in allocation to the department allowed him “to bring forward a package of measures to ease the burden on working families”.

The centrepiece of these measures is a significant expansion of the Early Childhood Care and Education scheme, which provides free pre-school education to families across the State and the introduction of two weeks’ statutory paternity leave.

At present, children are entitled to one year of preschool education paid for by the State when their child is between the ages of three years and two months and four years and seven months.

Paying privately

“From now on, children will be eligible for free childcare from three years of age, up until they are five and a half, or until they start primary school,” Mr Howlin told the Dáil.

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