Parents will soon be legally entitled to more financial support to help cover the cost of childcare.
The Childcare Support Bill passed all stages of the Oireachtas last night - and the law will take effect in the next few days.
The Childcare Support Bill 2017 was published in December and has received widespread, cross-party support as it travelled through the Houses of the Oireachtas.
Children's Minister Katherine Zappone told the Dáil that she hopes the legislation will have a positive effect.
"Affordable quality childcare can generate many vital and long-lasting benefits for children, for women, for families, for our economy, for society at large," said Ms Zappone.
Through financial support the scheme aims to improve access, assist families to return to work and training, reduce child poverty and improve outcomes for children.
“I believe everyone is aware of the importance of delivering accessible, affordable, quality childcare to families in Ireland. It is a key priority of this government and will require sustained investment and momentum over the coming years to achieve the childcare system that families in Ireland both need and deserve,” said Minister Zappone.
“In establishing the Affordable Childcare Scheme, the Bill creates a platform with the ability to flex and expand to allow more children and families to benefit from greater State investment in childcare in the years ahead.
Ireland's first ever #Childcare laws have passed @OireachtasNews ...the transformaton of our childcare system continues.... @EarlyChildhdIRL @merrionstreet @DCYAPress @ChildRightsIRL @pobal @tusla @acpire @SeasSuas_Irl @AnneRabbitte @seansherlocktd @AlanFarrell— Katherine Zappone (@KZapponeTD) June 26, 2018
"In short, it is an essential foundation for my pledge to transform our childcare system from one of the most expensive in the world to one of the best. We cannot make that step-change without it."
The development of the administrative and IT infrastructure for the new scheme is under way and Minister Zappone will outline timescales for the launch of the scheme once the external IT developer is fully in place.
Parents interested in knowing more about their childcare entitlements should go to affordablechildcare.ie