Tuesday, 14 May 2019
Department of Children and Youth Affairs
Affordable Childcare Scheme Implementation
448. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will consider referrals to the affordable childcare scheme from other educational practitioners in cases of vulnerable children in which Tusla is not involved. [20701/19]
The Childcare Support Act, which was enacted on 2ndJuly 2018, specifies five statutory bodies with which the Minister may make agreements in relation to referral procedures for free or additional childcare. The detail of the agreements - including the specific groups of children who will benefit, and the criteria that the referring body will apply – are currently being finalised by my Department and the relevant bodies.
The five statutory bodies - and the purposes of the agreements - are:
- Minister for Education and Skills - for teen parents who are still in education or training;
- Minister for Justice and Equality - for refugees and asylum seekers, to enable parents’ participation in education, integration and other relevant supports
- Child and Family Agency - to promote the welfare of children, either where there is a child protection concern, or as a form of early intervention or family support
- Health Service Executive - to support child development for children who are below the age for participation in ECCE and where there is an identified need for childcare as a developmental support for the child
- Local authorities - to support homeless families or families transitioning out of homelessness.
Families with high levels of need, who require childcare for child welfare, child protection or family support reasons, may be referred for childcare support by the appropriate sponsor body. Where such a referral is made, the family will automatically qualify for a subsidy for the number of hours considered appropriate by the sponsor without having to satisfy the scheme’s eligibility, income or enhanced hours requirements. There is no general minimum or maximum age limit for a child who is the subject of a referral by a sponsor. However, sponsor bodies will adhere to qualification criteria for referral as set out in Agreements made under section 14 of the Childcare Support Act 2018.
Sponsored referrals for support under the National Childcare Scheme may only be made by one of the five statutory bodies specified in the Childcare Support Act.