Revealed: How much parents could expect under Fine Gael's childcare tax credit proposal
Parents could expect at least €1,000 a year under proposed tax credits for employing childminders in their own homes.
The plan has not yet been costed but also seeks to have childcare supports for children of school-going age extended to all families.
The Department of Children last night said Minister Katherine Zappone welcomed Fine Gael support for increased childcare investment and said she was open to discussions on the best way to deliver quality, affordable childcare.
The proposal is being pushed by Fine Gael TDs Kate O'Connell and Maria Bailey.
The existing universal childcare subsidy of €1,040-a-year is available for all children aged between six months and three years attending crèches.
The Fine Gael plan would cater for parents who would prefer their children to be looked after at home.
Ms O'Connell said they were examining existing universal and means-tested childcare schemes in considering the rates that would be available in the tax credit. She said Ms Zappone's department had done a lot of research to determine those rates and the Department of Finance "can consider what is affordable and how we build on existing schemes".
She said she wanted the rates to be "as ambitious as possible".
The plan would see an upper limit to the amount of tax credit that could be claimed so that the system would be in line with existence of caps in current schemes. This cap would be set by ministers.
There are currently higher targeted subsidies for families with incomes below €47,500. The annual cap for this scheme is €7,500. It also offers a weekly sum of €150.40 for school-going children up to 15 years of age.
Ms Bailey said they wanted support offered to families with children of school-going age expanded to all children under the plan. She said the implementation cost of the proposal has not yet been detailed as the policy is "at infancy stage". She said the details of the policy would be refined in consultation with stakeholders and ministers.
A statement from the Department of Children said that a working group was to make recommendations on reforms for the childminding sector. It said Ms Zappone hoped that the group's report would form the basis of future decisions. The statement said a previous inter-departmental group decided in 2015 that investment in "supply-side" childcare measures would be more beneficial to parents than tax relief.
But it also said Ms Zappone was "open to discussion with colleagues on the best way to achieve quality and affordability in childcare".
Fianna Fáil spokeswoman on children Anne Rabbitte said she was "supportive of the concept" of tax credits but raised concern that the proposals could be a way to "sidestep" strict regulations around childcare, including Garda vetting.
Ms Bailey said that the proposal was not about side-stepping regulations, adding that the childminders would still have to be vetted.