Affordable Childcare Scheme
On Tuesday 11th October 2016 it was announced that an additional €19m has been agreed in Budget 2017 to enable the introduction of a new Single Affordable Childcare Scheme from September 2017. This will replace the existing childcare subsidisation schemes (excluding the free pre-school scheme) from September 2017 with a single, streamlined scheme which is more user-friendly for both parents and providers. The new scheme will make childcare more affordable, and will enable both universal and targeted subsidies for parents towards their childcare costs.
Parents will qualify for a subsidy based on their net income. Targeted subsidies will be available for children aged from 6 months up to 15 years and will meet families’ full-time childcare needs, including outside of school hours and during school holiday time, i.e. the scheme will ‘wraparound’ free pre-school / ECCE and school.
The level of subsidy will vary based on the parent’s income, with the highest levels of subsidy provided to those on the lowest incomes, helping families to overcome disadvantage and contributing to a reduction in child poverty.
Budget 2017 enables a universal subsidy to be payable for children between the ages of 6 and 36 months (or until the child qualifies for the free pre-school programme if later) who are availing of childcare by a Tusla registered childcare service. The universal subsidy will not be means-tested and will be available for families at any income level.
The scheme is also designed to be flexible, so that it can be extended to more children and families over time as more investment becomes available. As such, it will provide a robust platform for further sustained investment in childcare in future years so that affordability can be further strengthened, while also supporting quality.
The new scheme will:
- Contribute to the reduction of child poverty.
- Enhance affordability, providing both universal and targeted subsidies for parents towards their childcare costs.
- Be more user-friendly than existing targeted schemes for both parents and childcare providers, enabling online applications for subsidies.
- Encourage labour market activation, through shifting the focus which has existed historically on linking childcare subsidisation to eligibility for social welfare benefits and medical card entitlement to income.
- Facilitate parental choice and improve access to affordable childcare through being open to all childcare providers registered with Tusla, including registered childminders.
- Provide a flexible platform for sustained investment in childcare in future years so that affordability can be further strengthened, while also providing a basis for quality improvements through supply-side funding of childcare services.
On Friday 28th October 2016 Minister Zappone published a policy paper on the new Single Affordable Childcare Scheme and launched an online survey.
On Monday 30th January 2017 Minister Zappone published the Heads of Bill and General Scheme on the Affordable Childcare Scheme.
For further information on the Affordable Childcare Scheme, please read our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). This document will be updated in response to questions asked, and as more information on the Scheme becomes available.
If the Frequently Asked Questions attached do not answer a query you have, please submit an email to email@example.com