The Budget & Childcare – What it means to you

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone has defended the introduction of a new affordable childcare scheme for children between six months and 15 years.

The measure will see all existing subsidised schemes – excluding the free pre-school years – replaced with a single system of targeted and universal payments to help with the cost of childcare.

The first, targeted subsidy will be means-tested and paid in respect of children aged between six months and 15 years. The highest amounts – about €8,000 a year – will available to parents on the lowest incomes whose child is in up to 40 hours of childcare per week. It will be paid directly to the childcare provider which must be registered with Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.

The cut-off point for eligibility will be a net household income of €47,500. Under the scheme, the parents’ marital status will have no effect on how net household income is calculated.

From September 2017, there will also be a universal subsidy payable to parents of children aged six months to three years, of up to €80 per month – depending on how many hours the child is in childcare.

She insisted the State supported parents who chose to stay at home, including through the home-care tax credit which has been increased to €1,100 a year. She said the earnings threshold to qualify for this tax credit may be increased in future budgets.

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