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Subsidies to be made available to parents who use childminders – if they are registered with Tusla

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Stock image (Photo: PA)

Stock image (Photo: PA)

Minister Roderic O'Gorman

Minister Roderic O'Gorman

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Stock image (Photo: PA)

Parents who use childminders will be able to access subsidies under the new National Childcare Scheme, the Minister for Children announced today.

Minister Roderic O’Gorman said that access to the subsidy should become available within the first two to the three years of the launch of the National Action for Childminding.

The scheme provides Government subsidies towards the cost of Tusla-registered early learning and care and school-age childcare for families on low incomes, and those with net incomes up to a maximum family threshold of €60,000, as well as a universal subsidy for those with children under three years old.

According to the plan’s document: “The prospect of being able to take part in the National Childcare Scheme creates a positive incentive for childminders to register with Tusla, giving them – and the parents who choose to use them – an opportunity that has not previously existed to access subsidies.”

The plan also addresses the large number of childminders who work in the “informal economy”, and as such prevent parents from being able to receive subsidies.

“Childminding in Ireland is almost entirely unregulated and in some ways invisible,” the plan says. “The number of childminders is unknown and can only be estimated.”

“Few are registered with Tusla, the Child and Family Agency – most are exempt, preventing them from registering as the current regulations allow only those minding seven or more children (or four or more pre-school children) in the childminder’s home to register with Tusla.”

It goes on to say that this lack of regulation leads to a lack of quality assurance, that often bypasses the need for a Garda vetting check. And with no access to a public subsidy, many parents may find it difficult to find a local childminder.

As such, Minister O’Gorman said he was delighted to have launched the plan this evening, saying: “Until now there has been very little State support for childminding or public recognition of the important role that childminders play.”

“This National Action Plan, which stresses the distinctive features of childminding, will open up a range of supports to childminders and will bring many benefits to children, to their parents, and to childminders themselves.”

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The plan has three phases, beginning first with a two to three year process of review and development while costs are examined. Following that, a transition phase of three to five years will take place, in which new regulations should come into force and supports will be expanded.

The final phase will of course involve a full implementation of the plan with the end of transitional arrangements and childminders regulated.

As for cost, phase one could see the State spend around €1.8m to €2.8 per year.

The plan goes on to say that: “It is estimated that the additional cost in phase three would be €23m per annum in the lower cost scenario, which would represent a 4pc increase in annual public spending on early learning and care and school-age childcare”

However, the higher cost scenario could see a net cost of €51m every year.


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