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Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone)

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Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone)

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Snippet Contents:

The cost of childcare continues to be a major issue facing parents in Ireland. We remain the most expensive in the OECD. To alleviate some of this financial burden, I introduced a range of supports in September to make childcare more affordable for families, including a new universal subsidy for all children aged between 6 months and 3 years of age, or until they are eligible for ECCE. This amounts to as much as €80 a month or €1,040 per year for children in full time childcare. In addition, subsidies provided under existing childcare schemes, specifically the Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) and Training and Employment Childcare (TEC) Schemes have been increased significantly, in some cases by as much as 50%. Eligible parents can access as much as €7,500 per child per year under the CCS. The full second year of ECCE will also assist parents somewhat from September 2018.
In addition to measures aimed at affordability I am also seeking to address issues relating to quality service provision. I increased ECCE capitation by 7%, the first increase since ECCE was introduced in 2010. I also secured a total of €18 million for 'programme support payments' for service providers to assist them with the administrative burden of delivering the various childcare schemes.
I am acutely aware that pay and conditions for the Early Years workforce are highly inadequate. In this regard I am conscious of the fact that while my Department is not the employer of Childcare professionals, it is a major funder and I will be supportive of efforts made by the sector to move this issue forward possibly by a Sectoral Employment Order with the Labour Court.
I am pleased that the 'Independent Review of the Cost of Delivering Quality Childcare' has been commissioned by my Department, Crowe Howarth will soon begin to examine the costs faced by childcare providers in delivering quality childcare. This will include a survey of childcare providers. Following completion, the review is intended to be used to strengthen the evidence base underpinning future policy development and investment in early years. It will feed into future policy development that will address both the cost of childcare for parents and the quality of service delivery which is greatly affected by the terms and conditions of the workforce.