A record level of Government funding in early learning and childcare this year will drive down fee costs for parents from today (January 2nd), according to Fine Gael Senator Mary Seery Kearney.
Senator Seery Kearney, Fine Gael’s Seanad Spokesperson for Children, said: “Budget 2023 introduces major reforms to the National Childcare Scheme (NCS) from January 2023, which will substantially improve the affordability of early learning and childcare for families.
“From today, parents will feel the benefit of a 25% drop in childcare fees, with an average reduction of €1,200 in annual childcare costs for each child.
“Government is doing this by almost trebling the subsidies provided through the National Childcare Scheme. The overall number of childcare places will be increased with an extra €59 million invested in our childcare providers.
“The early learning & childcare sector is being supported through continued and increased investment in the new Core Funding scheme. There are currently in excess of 106,000 children enrolled in the programme
“ECCE affords children an equality of access to free preschool nurturing and development with childcare professionals.
“Since 2016 we have had a standardised level of qualification and training for all childcare professionals so that every child has that equality of opportunity.
“The funding for ECCE has increased year on year and the number of providers has increased year on year.
“2023 will hit a record of government intervention to ensure a meaningful subsidy that puts money in parents’ pockets and delivers on our party’s commitment to reduce childcare costs.
“Investment in early learning and childcare will increase to over €1 billion next year, which achieves the target set out in First 5, the new Government strategy for the sector, of doubling expenditure on 2018 levels five years ahead of schedule.
“A total of €259 million has been allocated for the first year of the new core funding stream (September 2022-August 2023), with €287m allocated for year two of the scheme, a rise of 11%.
“Parents can rest assured that the national childcare subsidy increases won’t be absorbed into fee increases, with a fee freeze on 2021 rates in place in over 90% childminding facilities which have signed up to the new core funding stream.
“Undersupply in some parts on the country is also being addressed through engagement with City and County Childcare Committees where there is evidence of unmet family need, in addition to changes to the 2001 Planning Guidelines for Local Authorities on Early Learning and Childcare Settings.
“New orders setting minimum hourly rates for various roles in early years services it is hoped will improve pay for a large majority of childcare professionals.
“There is now a formal mechanism established for future negotiation of rates for early learning and care and school-age childcare services, which is an extremely positive development.”