As part of Budget 2017, a new €35m Single Affordable Child Care Subsidy Scheme will be introduced in September 2017. It is designed to provide parental means-tested subsidies, towards the cost of childcare for children aged six months to 15 years and universal subsidies of up to €80 a month or €900 a year for all children aged between six months and three years. This scheme will replace the existing subsidy schemes – including the Community Childcare Subvention Programme, After-School Child Care Scheme and the Childcare Education and Training Support Programme. As a result, all families, no matter what their income levels, will be entitled to as much as €900 a year, if the child is in 40 hours per week of childcare. The payment will apply on a pro-rata basis of a State subsidy of 50 cent an hour of childcare and will be paid directly to the childcare provider. International research confirms that access to high quality and affordable childcare is particularly important and beneficial for children from lower income families.
In addition to the childcare package, €86m extra has been provided in respect of the full year costs of the extended Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme (ECCE), the free pre-school scheme, and the roll out of the Access and Inclusion Model, or AIM, to enable children with disabilities to participate in pre-school education.