Childcare support to homeless is extended
Free childcare schemes for homeless families are to be extended to include children up to 12 years of age.
Homeless children aged five and under are currently eligible on a year-round basis.
Now those up to 12 will be covered during the summer months and all school holidays, Children's Minister Katherine Zappone has said.
She added: "The extension will not only provide activity for young children, but will also ease the burden on families who are in very stressful situations".
Families arriving from the Mediterranean refugee crisis will also be offered 60 weeks' free childcare, up from the current eight.
Ms Zappone said: "I believe every child should have access to childcare, no matter what their background, income or family circumstance."
She said it's "an ambitious goal but one which we must reach".
Homeless children aged five and under have been covered by the scheme since the start of the year with Government funding of €8m.Ms Zappone said she is pleased it's being extended to include part-time childcare for six to 12-year-olds.
She also referred to the increased childcare support for refugee families arriving under a resettlement scheme.
"The extension will assist integration and create space for parents, guardians and older family members to seek jobs, training and education," she said.
Ms Zappone said the Government is transforming one of the most expensive childcare systems in the world into "one of the best".