15/08/2018

Parents And Children To Benefit From New Free Pre-School Scheme

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, has announced a free pre-school ECCE scheme to be introduced this September to benefit children, parents and childcare providers.

Childcare providers throughout the country will receive an increase of 7% in their capitation payments for the ECCE preschool programme in September.

Approximately 120,000 children benefited from this universal scheme last year which offers 15 hours per week of free preschool to children across the school year. The scheme is being extended from September to offer up to two years (76 weeks) to every child from the age of two years and eight months until they start in school.

Childcare providers will see the weekly payments for children registered on the scheme rise by 7% to as much as €80.25 where staff have degrees, or €69 where staff have the minimum qualification of Level 5 and 6.

The additional funding was secured by Minister Zappone as part of the Budget 2018 negotiations as a step towards improving the working conditions of childcare workers and therefore the quality of care and education received by children.

Announcing the new scheme, Minister Zappone said: "Much has been achieved over the past year with regards to achieving our goal to transform childcare in Ireland.

"The infrastructure for the new Affordable Childcare Scheme is beginning to take shape. The State's first piece of legislation enabling the subsidisation of childcare has been passed. The contract for the development of the IT system for the new scheme has been awarded.

"The affordability measures introduced last September to lower childcare costs have benefited over 80,000 children and their families. More children than ever are benefiting from Government schemes. Access to high quality and affordable childcare remains a Government priority and is critical to ensure continued economic growth."

In relation to the increase in ECCE capitation being introduced, the Minister concluded: "Children and families availing of formal childcare need and deserve high quality services delivered by valued and respected early years practitioners. I hope that this increase in capitation can be used by employers to improve the pay and conditions of these personnel who make such a positive impact on our childrens most important, formative years."

(MH/CM)

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