Written answers

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Department of Children and Youth Affairs

Childcare Costs

Photo of Niamh SmythNiamh Smyth (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
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129. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the problems being experienced by parents on the wage subsidy scheme who continue to pay childcare costs through various schemes (details supplied); if allowances are being made for such cases; if he will review this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37228/20]

Roderic O'Gorman (Dublin West, Green Party)
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The NCS offers a flexible application process, with a variety of assessment options for parents to assess their most recent income circumstances. One of these is a Current Year Assessment. This allows parents to have their current year’s income assessed to determine their level of subsidy, rather than the default option of the previous tax year. This could more accurately reflect their current income level.

In addition, the ‘Sudden Change Assessment’ option allows for applicants to declare that they have had an ongoing change to their income. This applies to people who have lost a job or their income has reduced on an ongoing basis for reasons outside of their control. This measure will be of benefit to many parents who have had their income impacted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and may be of assistance to the parent in question. Parents will need to complete a new NCS application to avail of this measure.

A range of supports have been provided to support the ELC and SAC sector through this difficult year. A package of supports worth nearly €300m was introduced in July to assist the sector to reopen, recognising the importance of the sector for children’s positive development and in terms of supporting the economy to return to normal.

Amongst these is the COVID-19 Sustainability Support Fund 2020 is available to support the sustainability of Early Learning and Care (ELC) and School Age Childcare (SAC) services whose viability is still negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The grant provides funding to successful applicants to offset losses caused by a decrease in occupancy and/or an increase in costs due to the pandemic. Applications for the first round of funding closed on 20 October, but additional rounds are planned and the dates will be announced soon.

Childcare providers are responsible for their own sessions, fees and admissions policies. However, the funding package and supports outlined above were put in place to support the sustainability of childcare providers throughout the pandemic, and to provide them with the opportunity to be as flexible as possible in supporting the families using their services.

Further information and resources for parents are available by contacting The Parent Support Centre on 01 906 8530 or by visiting www.ncs.gov.ie. I have also asked the local County Childcare Committee to make contact with the parent to assist in their engagement with childcare provider.

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