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The Government recently approved a range of measures which will see more than 70,000 families benefit from reduced childcare costs from September says Cork East Fine Gael TD and Minister of State at the Department of Justice, David Stanton. These measures are being funded by €19 million of childcare funding agreed in Budget 2017.

“A lack of access to affordable childcare is one of the main barriers for parents accessing employment and further education. With these new measures we are building on progress already made such as two free pre-school years, extended maternity leave and the introduction of paternity leave. We are targeting the highest levels of support at families with low incomes and children under 3 years of age but all children aged between 6 months and 15 years will benefit. As will more than 3,000 childcare providers.

To ensure that parents and childcare providers understand these new childcare supports and how to access them a public information campaign will begin soon. However some of the main changes are:
• A new universal childcare subsidy, worth up to €1000 per annum, for children aged from 6 months up to 36 months old (or commencement of the free pre-school programme) which will benefit up to 33,000 children.
• Increases of up to 50 per cent in childcare subvention rates provided under the Community Childcare Subvention Scheme for children aged from 6 months up to 15 years old which will benefit up to 23,000 children including 7,000 additional children who will benefit from this scheme for the first time in September.
• New levels of childcare subsidies available under a number of circumstances, including to Family Income Supplement recipients or those holding a medical card or GP visit card.
• An online system to provide a user friendly way for parents to access and administer childcare supports which when in operation will allow a further 9,000 families to benefit from more affordable childcare.