Parents of pre-school children remain unaware of extra pre-school supports made available this year according to Fine Gael Deputy Joe Carey.
With targeted child care supports increasing by as much as 50%, Deputy Carey is urging Clare parents to find out how they can benefit by logging on to a new information website.
While there have been over 173,000 page visits to the affordable childcare.ie website in the past month, Deputy Carey said almost two-thirds are from Dublin and some Clare families may not be aware of their full entitlements.
He explained, “extra supports for up to 70,000 children will come into effect at the start of the pre-school year, with some parents receiving childcare benefits up to €7,500. This could have a significant benefit for many families in Clare.
“There will be improved access to subsidies for providers, with the traditional Community Childcare Scheme (CCS) being extended to both community and private providers.
“Overall total spending on child care programmes this year is €466 million, representing a 79% increase on figures in 2015. Now we must ensure that families receive the benefit of this.”
Deputy Carey said families can benefit in two ways. Firstly, the changes include a universal benefit for every child under three. Universal subsidies of up to €1,040 a year will be available for all children aged between 6 and 36 months in full-time childcare.
The second targeted support is based on income and will benefit parents who have had to turn down jobs, training, and education because they cannot afford childcare.
Deputy Carey added, “This is the first big step, but there is still much to do in this area. I am assured that the Minister is focused on quality of childcare, accessibility and also recognition for the workers who provide services.
“Since first entering Government, Fine Gael has prioritised hard pressed working families; the people who bore the brunt of the economic recession. A major part of this has been to reduce the cost of childcare for working parents.
“We introduced the free pre-school year, and subsequently extended it to the second year. It is estimated the extended scheme provides an average saving of €4,000 per child.
“We also recently introduced paternity leave for the first time ever. Dads are now entitled to two weeks’ paid leave.
“I will continue working to ensure that Clare parents can avail of high quality and affordable care for their children when they need it,” Deputy Carey concluded.