Fine Gael is continuing its commitment to making childcare more affordable for working families with announcements today in Budget 2018, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Deputy Alan Farrell, Fine Gael TD for Dublin Fingal and Chair of the Oireachtas Childcare Committee, noted that with Budget 2018, Fine Gael is ensuring that childcare is made more affordable for thousands of hard pressed families so that they have the opportunity to work.
“Since Fine Gael first entered Government in 2011 we prioritised children and families. However, we heard it loud and clear on the doorsteps from parents at the last election; that childcare costs were placing undue pressure on families.
“Fine Gael made a commitment in the Programme for Government to help alleviate this pressure, and the measures announced in Budget 2018 build on the work already started this year to make childcare more affordable. We want to ensure everyone has the opportunity to work and we cannot allow childcare costs to be a barrier to this.
“Minister Donohoe has allocated an additional €20 million in 2018 to support a range of childcare measures. The ECCE Free Pre-School Programme, which Fine Gael introduced and later extended to two years, will now be developed further in order to make sure that children are entitled to a full two year service.
“In addition to other measures to progress quality and sustainability in the early years sector, the capitation rate for providers of the ECCE Programme will increase by 7 per cent from September 2018.
“The new affordable childcare measures introduced by the Government in September of this year, will continue to be supported in 2018 in advance of the introduction of the Single Affordable Childcare Scheme. These are the universal childcare payment for the under 3s and also the increased rates in targeted childcare subvention schemes which are designed to give a helping hand to those families who need it most.
“In a move that will benefit the most vulnerable children and families, the allocation to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency will be increased by over €40 million, bringing its total allocation to just under €754 million.
“This will support the introduction of mandatory reporting under the Children First Act; addressing any gaps in existing Out of Hours Services; and provide for further investment and development of the Family Resource Centres, a really valuable network in communities all around the country.
“These announcements today build on other Fine Gael measures to support families including the two weeks’ paid Paternity Leave introduced for new fathers for the first time in the history of the State.
“Under 6s also benefit from GP care and an extra 10,000 children now qualify for a medical card thanks to it being extended to those on Domiciliary Care Allowance.
“We have provided for 47,000 extra breakfast club places to benefit children and the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance has increased by 25%.
“With the continued committed to affordable childcare in today’s Budget speech, families can be assured that Fine Gael will continue to make life a little easier for them
“We are also continuing steady investment in education, health and housing.
“Fine Gael in Government is delivering for families and we are now giving back to those who have had to make sacrifices during what were very tough times for our country. The gains we have made since the dark days of the recession are hard won and they are fragile, especially in the context of Brexit.
“However we are in a position to protect our economic recovery and use some of the resources it provides to give everyone a fair chance, and the opportunity to reach their full potential.”