Budget 2017 – What was announced?

Dear Parents,

Today was an important day because the government announced new plans to support parents with their childcare costs. This means many parents may consider returning to work or education, or get extra support if they are already balancing work or school with childcare needs. The plan is very different from previous plans, it appears that funding is accessed differently, various schemes have been simplified, and it may have a broad reach in our community.

What was announced?

Details are yet to be clarified, but here is an extract from the Budget 2017 document.

The aim of this programme is to support the provision of both universal and targeted services for the care, development and wellbeing of children and young people. The Government’s budgetary decisions for 2017 under this Programme will allow for the following:

  • An additional €86m is provided in respect of the full year costs of the extended ECCE scheme and the roll out of the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) in ECCE first announced in Budget 2016;
  • A further €35.5m is being provided for a range of further measures to address affordability and quality in the early years schemes. This includes the introduction of a new Single Affordable Childcare Scheme from September 2017, which will provide means-tested subsidies, based on parental income, for children from 6 months up to 15 years, in addition to universal subsidies for all children using formal childcare aged 6 months to 3 years. It also includes the provision of non-contact time payments to service providers.
  • In total, Early Years funding will rise from €345m in 2016 to €465m in 2017, an increase of 35%;
  • An additional €5.5m is being provided to increase the support provided to youth work programmes and services by the voluntary youth work sector; and
  • Funding of €5.8m is being provided to support the area based approach to child poverty (ABC programme) to maintain all existing sites for the whole of 2017.
Katherine Zappone

Katherine Zappone

Announcing the measures the Minister added:

In the coming weeks my Department and I will set out in greater detail our commitments and work programmes across all areas. I am of course keenly aware of the public, media and political debate on childcare which preceded the announcement of the Budget.

This Government continues to attach a very high priority to the work of Tusla – the Child and Family Agency.  Tusla provides essential services to some of the most vulnerable children and families in our society.  Budget 2017 provides Tusla with the necessary additional resources – some €37m – to continue with its ambitious programme of reform of services and to build an effective and responsive child protection and welfare system.”

 
A Scheme to Subsidise Childcare
A major policy priority for me in 2017 is the development of a new Single Affordable Childcare Scheme. This will replace existing childcare subsidisation schemes (excluding the free pre-school scheme) with a single, streamlined scheme from September 2017.

This new scheme is a major step in making childcare more affordable, and will enable both universal and targeted subsidies for parents towards their childcare costs.

Parents will qualify for a targeted subsidy based on their net income.

Subsidies will be available for children aged from 6 months up to 15 years and will meet families’ full-time childcare needs, including outside of school hours and during school holiday time.

The highest levels of subsidy will be provided to those on the lowest incomes, approx. €8,000 a year based on the maximum of 40-hours childcare a week. This will help families to overcome disadvantage and contribute to a reduction in child poverty.

International research confirms that access to high quality and affordable childcare is particularly important and beneficial for children from lower income families . It helps to prepare them for school and reduces inequality.

Households earning up to €47,500 net income will be able to avail of subsidised childcare.

I hope that future budgets will enable me increase this threshold year on year.

I am also delighted to announce a universal measure for parents of children aged from 6 months to three years. From September 2017 a universal subsidy of up to €80 per month will be provided towards childcare costs . This equates to over €900 per annum for parents working full time and will be paid pro-rata. This will be payable to childcare services registered with Tusla (this includes a small number of child-minders).

Alongside the Single Affordable Childcare Scheme development, additional funding in Budget 2017 enables the further roll out of the Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme (ECCE) which has been expanded from this September to cover all children from age three until they start in school. Parents now benefit from an average of 61 weeks of free pre-school, saving an average of €4000 on their childcare costs for each eligible child. Budget 2017 also enables full roll out of the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) to support children with disabilities attend mainstream pre-schools.

I am aware that almost 5000 childcare services are under pressure to deliver a variety of childcare programmes to an increasing number of children while complying with recently introduced regulations. This is placing a considerable administrative burden on services. Today I am confirming measures, supported by an investment of €14.5m, which will help ease that burden by paying for some non-contact time on top of existing capitation payments.

Through the recently established national Early Years Forum I will work in collaboration with all stakeholders to continue addressing the concerns of providers so that they can provide high quality services to children and families.

 

Subsidisation of Childcare

The maximum rate of subsidy will be payable to all those with net incomes up to €22,700 per annum. Based on estimated average childcare fees, this maximum subsidy might be expected to equate to a corresponding co-payment for parents of 30 cent per hour or €12 per week for 40 hours care. The rate of subsidy will taper downwards as net income rises, with no targeted subsidy payable when net income reaches €47,500.
The income thresholds increase where there are multiple children in a family, so a family with three children under 15 years would have a maximum net income threshold of €55,100.
It is envisaged that the scheme will cover all services which are registered with the Early Years Inspectorate of Tusla and which choose to participate in the scheme. This includes a small number of registered child-minders. It is hoped that, over time, more child-minders will be encouraged and supported to become registered and to participate in the new scheme.
The full year cost of the new scheme in 2018 will be €150m, or €44m in addition to the 2017 budget.

What should I do next?

Watch this space! When details are clear and we have heard from the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone, through the various agencies, we will let you know. Then of course you can contact the team at Bambi’s so that we can discuss your needs and take it from there. Bambi’s have been working in Sruleen parish for over 30 years, our mission is to support you as parents and ensure you have access to high quality early years education for your little one.

We hope this has been useful, please share using the Facebook icon below!

Bambi’s Team 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *