Legislation supporting affordable childcare passed through the Oireachtas last week, just as an Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) survey confirmed that most families struggle with childcare costs.
The Childcare Support Bill, which is expected to be enacted in the coming days, promises to give parents additional financial assistance. The Government says the new scheme will replace existing targeted childcare programmes with a “single, streamlined and more user-friendly scheme.”
According to the ICTU survey results which polled 1,000 trade union members, childcare is one of the top two out-of-pocket costs for 71% of working families with a pre-school child. While half (52%) of families with two or more children say it’s their biggest monthly expense.
Commenting on the newly announced legislation, Congress general secretary, Patricia King said:
“Removing this employment barrier for mothers who want to return to work will increase the skills level and size of the workforce. This is vital for sustaining spending on public services and payments, such as the old age pension, into the future”.
Minister for children and youth affairs, Katherine Zappone says the new scheme will improve outcomes for children, reduce poverty, facilitate labour activation and reduce the cost of childcare for families.
“It is a key priority of this government and will require sustained investment and momentum over the coming years to achieve the childcare system that families in Ireland both need and deserve” she said.
Currently the families of over 75,000 children are in receipt of financial support.
Parents of children aged 6-36 months are currently entitled to a non-means tested childcare subsidy of €20 per week, which amounts to €1,040 a year. Some families are also eligible for a €145 means-tested subsidy if the child is under six months. You can click here to see if you qualify.