Families with children under the age of three can now apply for a childcare subsidy.
The Government announced that it will provide €1,040 per child per year.
It will be open to all families, as it is not means tested.
The first two strands of this funding announced today will help create over 5,000 extra childcare places in 225 school age childcare services. A third strand will be announced in the coming weeks.
The extra spaces will further increase capacity ahead of new childcare supports which will benefit up to 70,000 children from September.
Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone made the announcement this morning.
"They can receive up to €20 per week in childcare subsidies, which is equivalent to about €1,000 a year, or six weeks of free childcare, so that's the first time ever we're offering, as a Government, that investment for families for children under three," she said.
Families are being encouraged to visit a special website www.affordablechildcare.ie which has already recorded more than quarter of a million visits.
At the launch of the campaign the Taoiseach said: "In just three weeks’ time, up to 70,000 children will be able to register for a range of childcare subsidies put in place by the Government of Ireland to honour our commitment to make childcare more affordable for families.
"For the first time, a universal, non-means tested childcare subsidy will be available for children aged six months to three years.
"This amounts to a maximum of €1,040 per year, for some the cost of one month of childcare. We will also be providing extra support for parents on lower incomes going back to work or education, providing as much as €145 per week towards the cost of their childcare.”
Minister Zappone added: “The first big step is being taken to accessible affordable quality childcare. Through our awareness campaign we are reaching out to parents and telling them how they can benefit from the extra €19m in family supports now just four weeks away.
“There are two ways in which supports will be delivered. A universal support to every child aged 6-months to 3-years-old and then targeted supports for those families which need it most – this second category covers children up to 15-years of age.
“Ensuring capacity for school age children is important to reach our goals in terms of accessibility and quality. The funding of €4m announced today will help us to get there.
“I am delighted that 225 projects have been identified in the first two rounds of this funding, with the remainder to be announced shortly.
“Our childcare goals are ambitious. They have to be. I remain fully committed to work with parents and providers so we can finally turn one of the most expensive childcare systems in the world into the best.”