Parents have been encouraged to inform themselves about childcare supports that will help them financially, and figures indicate a positive public response. Over 173,000 page visits were recorded last month to an information website – affordablechildcare.ie – which details the childcare supports available from September this year.
Cork based Fine Gael Senator, Tim Lombard, said, “I strongly encourage all parents in Cork who have not yet done so to log on to the website and get informed. While the figures show a fantastic response to the nationwide campaign, nearly two thirds of the people visiting the site come from the Dublin area.
“The total spending on child care programmes this year is €466m, a 79% increase on figures in 2015, and I want to ensure that all eligible families here in Cork will benefit from such expenditure.
“At the start of the pre-school year up to 70,000 children nationwide will have extra supports, as negotiated in this year’s budget, with some children receiving childcare benefits up to €7,500.
“We are enhancing existing targeted childcare supports by as much as 50% and there will be improved access to subsidies for providers, with the traditional Community Childcare Scheme (CCS) being extended to both community and private providers.
“Families will benefit in two ways. Firstly, the changes will see a universal benefit for every child under 3-years old. Universal subsidies, of up to €1,040 per annum, which will be available for all children aged between 6 and 36 months in full time childcare.
“The second targeted support is based on income and also for those parents who have had to turn down jobs, training and education because they cannot afford childcare.
“This is the first big step but there is still much work to be done in this area. I am assured that the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone, is focused on the quality and accessibility of childcare here in Ireland, but also recognition for the workers who provide these services.
“Since first entering Government, Fine Gael has prioritised hard pressed working families; people who bore the brunt of the economic recession. A major part of this has been to reduce the cost of childcare for working parents. We introduced the free pre-school year, subsequently extending it to a second year, and it is estimated that the extended scheme provides an average saving of €4,000 per child.
“We also recently introduced paternity leave, so for the first time Irish Dads are now entitled to two weeks’ paid leave.
“I will continue working to ensure that parents across Cork can avail of high quality and affordable care for their children when they need it. An important step is knowing what childcare supports are available, so again I urge Cork parent to log on to the affordable childcare website and see what financial support is being offered.”
New website www.affordablechildcare.ie