Friday 19 January 2018

No need for parents to be shocked by childcare plan delay: Zappone

Minister Katherine Zappone. Photo: Tom Burke
Minister Katherine Zappone. Photo: Tom Burke

Gavin White

There is "no need for parents to be shocked" over the fact that the affordable childcare scheme may not be ready by September 2017, Children's Minister Katherine Zappone has said.

The Irish Independent revealed the Government's multi- million euro 'affordable childcare scheme' has experienced complications and could be postponed.

"I just want to be clear. Up to 70,000 children will get extra childcare benefits this September as announced in Budget 2017," Ms Zappone told the Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs yesterday.

"There is no delay, no jeopardy and there is no need for parents to be shocked."

Despite this resounding statement, the minster said it was "too early to give a definitive answer" on when the tendering and implementation process for the childcare system would be finished.

However, the Independent TD said a "high percentage" of the expected 100,000 applicants to the scheme would benefit from extra childcare benefits.

The scheme was due to come into effect on September 1, but could now face delays of months. Ms Zappone said it was now an IT issue but existing systems would be there to help provide families with extra benefits in September.

However, she said they had "achieved their first milestone" in the process after the "architectural infrastructure of the scheme" was completed. Ms Zappone revealed that the Department of Social Protection has been drafted in to help iron out several difficulties.

The Department of Social Protection is currently carrying out an analysis of potential disincentive effects created by the interaction of ACS and Family Income Supplement (FIS).

The new Single Affordable Childcare Scheme was announced in Budget 2017.

It replaces previous subsidy schemes for working parents and they would be able to avail of subsidies of up to €1,000 a year.

Irish Independent

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