Over 2,000 providers sign up to national childcare scheme

Over 2,000 providers sign up to national childcare scheme

More than 2,000 care providers have signed up to the Government's new national childcare scheme which will ease access for parents to subsidised services.

Minister for Children, Katherine Zappone, will update Cabinet tomorrow, outlining the numbers of before and after-school facilities, creches and other services that have agreed to be involved in the scheme.

Applications for the new scheme, which goes live in October, were opened last month. Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Ms Zappone welcomed the early commitment from care providers: "There has been a huge amount of activity behind the scenes to prepare for the National Childcare Scheme.

"Childcare providers have demonstrated their interest and commitment by their attendance at information sessions. We see how this has translated into the very high numbers who have signed up in just three weeks.

It is very heartening. This is great news for parents and children.

There have been concerns that families, particularly poorer ones, may lose out when the new scheme is up and running. But Ms Zappone's department says that no parent will be less well off under the new scheme and that applicants for subsidised care can stay with older schemes if they are less costly.

The new national scheme is the first statutory entitlement to financial support for childcare. It will provide universal and income-linked subsidies and give parents easier access to carers in early learning and the school-age childcare sector.

As of last Friday, up to 2,100 care providers had signed up to the new scheme. Officials involved with it say it will simplify applications, with parents even able to submit forms completely on their phone.

Furthermore, with different agencies sharing data for one universal scheme, it is estimated that an extra 80,000 parents of children will now get access to subsidised care.

A full year cost for the new scheme is €50m, which will go towards subsidising care hours for children.

The Cabinet is expected to get a more detailed update on the plan and efforts to roll out the new national scheme by October today.

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