Speech by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. Katherine Zappone at the National Childcare Scheme Event
Check Against Delivery
Taoiseach, colleagues, invited guests,
I am delighted to welcome you all here today to mark the opening of the National Childcare Scheme’s online application process in recent weeks.
Some of you joined me on the 11th of March this year as we launched our national communications campaign for the Scheme.
We spoke about providing the pathway to quality, accessible, affordable early learning and care and school age childcare.
I am delighted to say that this path is now well and truly open.
We have received applications for 17,600 children. Over 2,500 families in Dublin are getting payments under the NCS with another 700 families in the Capital having their applications processed as we stand here.
This is replicated across the country from Limerick to Louth and Donegal to Kerry with 8,500 families approved for funding since we opened just three weeks ago.
This is making a real difference to families. Some of these families are getting subsidies for the first time and many more are seeing their existing subsidies significantly increased.
I would appeal to those who have not yet applied to have a look at the website, use the calculator to see if you might be eligible for a subsidy for the first time or an increase on what you are currently receiving.
The calculator will give you a good idea and then you can go ahead and make an application.
The National Childcare Scheme provides a user-friendly, paperless, automated assessment process for parents allowing for over 30,000 different applicant circumstances and choices to pass through seamlessly.
Over 3,600 early learning and care and school aged childcare services have signed up to participate in the Scheme. This is an excellent result.
The scheme will support a broad swathe of society.
On introduction, it provides universal supports for children under three and it supports households with reckonable incomes of up to €60,000.
The reckonable income element is important as there is a multiple child discount. For example if you have two children under the age of 15 years, you are allowed a discount of €4,300 from your income. This rises to €8,600 if you have three or more children under the age of 15.
The National Childcare Scheme is designed so that those who need the most support – get the most support.
We have also ensured that key sponsor agreements are in place to support the most vulnerable children and families access free early learning and care or school age childcare.
We could not have gotten here without the continued hard work and dedication of all those involved in this Scheme.
There are many people who worked very long hours to make this happen for children and parents.
I think it is fair to say that delivery of the NCS became a vocation for them. These include the NCS project team, the Project Board and the Executive Board.
I’d like to say a particular thanks to external experts who assisted us with our vision and ambition.
To parents, providers, representatives of disadvantaged communities I wish to thank you for engaging with us and advising us along the way.
I would also like to thank the staff of the City and County Childcare Committees who have provided information and practical support to providers and parents through over 600 training sessions and a further 200 information sessions, workshops and public engagements nationwide throughout the year relating to this new scheme.
And to the many staff members in local Intreo Offices, Citizens Information Centres and libraries who have engaged with us to provide invaluable local and community level support to those accessing the Scheme, thank you.
I also want to thank our team here in the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. They never lost faith. They never came to me with a problem without having a solution. They are the very best of our public service.
I am proud to say that the cross-departmental work, collaboration and dedication will make a very real difference to the children and families of Ireland now and for many years to come.
I would also like to thank the Taoiseach and Minister Paschal Donohoe for their support with getting the NCS up and running.
They kept faith with us.
Of course, there is more work to be done.
Importantly, we have been allocated additional funding under Budget 2020. This will allow us to increase the hours that we subsidise from September 2020. For parents who are not in work or study they will increase from 15 to 20 hours.
For those in employment or training they will rise from 40 to 45 hours.
I think we have made a good start in moving from one of the most expensive countries for childcare to one of the best.
I am delighted to now introduce the Taoiseach and to thank him for being here to mark this important milestone for children and parents.