The Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton T.D. and the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald T.D. have today (24th April 2013) announced that the first pilot phase of the new afterschool childcare scheme will begin on 29th April.
In this first phase, up to 500 childcare places will be made available to people who have been long-term unemployed or were former recipients of the One Parent Family Payment and who have received a job offer or have significantly increased their part-time hours.
Minister Burton said: “The provision of good quality, affordable childcare is one of the most important ways in which we help people get back to work. I was delighted in the Budget to secure agreement for this scheme, for which savings from my Department’s Vote provided €14 million in funding to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. This scheme will assist parents on low incomes to return to work, and when fully up and running, will make a crucial difference to thousands of families. It represents a further step in the Government’s long-term commitment to building a first-rate childcare system for all families.”
Minister Fitzgerald said: “I am delighted that this scheme will now be available and is an addition to the suite of childcare schemes provided and funded by my Department. Extending childcare provision has been a key priority for me. The initiative shows how Departments are working together to deliver on this Government’s agenda to promote employment and to support children’s development. This phase of the pilot is to give us an opportunity to learn how we can make the scheme most effective while minimising the administrative burden on customers and employers.”
The scheme will involve a Government subsidy of €35 per week and a parental contribution of €20 per week per child. During school holidays, the Government subsidy will increase to €100 per week but the parental contribution will remain at €20 per week.
In this phase, the scheme will be made available in seven locations through the Department of Social Protection Local Offices in Finglas, Dundalk, Tralee, King’s Inn Street in Dublin City Centre, Cork City, Mullingar and Limerick City (Dominic Street). Customers who meet the criteria will get a letter of eligibility from their Local Office, which will also inform them of the amount of afterschool childcare provision applicable. They will then be referred to their nearest County Childcare Committee who will connect them with the relevant providers.
The Department of Children and Youth Affairs will be responsible for providing the afterschool childcare places, including the contracting and payment of providers and overseeing quality standards.
The second phase of the pilot will be rolled out in July this year, with national rollout in September. A total of 6,000 places will be available when the scheme is implemented in full. The Department of Social Protection will provide €14 million in funding for the scheme.