Statement by Minister Zappone Meeting of Oireachtas Committee on children and Youth Affairs, 8th February 2017
Please see the following statement on the Affordable Childcare Scheme
“The Affordable Childcare Scheme will replace four targeted programmes, which differ from each other in their eligibility rules, in the level of subsidy they provide, and in how widely available they are. A major limitation of the largest of the programmes – the Community Childcare Subvention – is that eligibility is based on receipt of social welfare payments. As a result, rather than supporting parents into employment, for some parents the programme may be a barrier to labour market participation.
The Affordable Childcare Scheme is designed to remedy these concerns:
· It will replace four programmes with one.
· Eligibility will have a clear and fair basis in parents’ income, which will support parents to enter the labour market.
· It will be open to all Tusla-registered providers, including Tusla-registered childminders.
· 90% of beneficiaries of the current programmes will be better off under the new Scheme. The remaining 10% will have their current level of subsidy protected for a transitional period.
· Many families eligible for the current schemes, but who have determined the existing level of co-payments to be too onerous, will be more attracted to this scheme and therefore to enter employment.
Key features of the new Scheme
The Scheme is intended to be simple for parents, who will be able to apply online. In the large majority of cases, eligibility will be determined automatically through data-sharing with the IT systems of the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Social Protection. In cases where such data does not reflect a family’s current income – for instance where a parent recently lost a job – the scheme will allow for a “manual” assessment of the family’s current income, which will be carried out by Pobal (the “scheme administrator”).
The Scheme is also intended to be simple for childcare providers. Once a subsidy has been approved, it will be paid directly to the childcare provider, on the parent’s behalf. Any childcare provider that wants to take part in the Scheme will have to sign a contract, which will include financial controls to protect taxpayers’ money”.