Meath West Fine Gael TD and Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English has said that €85 million in childcare measures announced today in Budget 2016 will reduce costs for hard working parents, as well as improving the quality of the care available to their children.
“The Government has confirmed its commitment to investment in childcare, to ensure that we increase affordability, quality and accessibility for parents and children across Ireland. This is a real and meaningful first step, that will have both social and economic returns far into the future.
“Among the range of measures in Budget 2016, aimed at helping hard working parents are:
- An extension of the free pre-school year, meaning free pre-school for all children from age 3 to primary school (there will be three windows for parents to enrol their children in the scheme – September, January and April)
· Over €15m will be used to make pre-school more accessible for children who special needs
- Two weeks of new paid paternal leave, which will kick in for fathers from next September
· A €5 increase in child benefit, to €140 per child per month
- An extension of the Community Childcare Subvention Programme, which offers low income parents, reduced rates.5,000 extra childcare places through private and community providers this year and 8,000 next year
· A €3 million capital fund will support childcare providers to develop after-school services
· There will also be a number of measures to improve the quality of childcare provision, including an audit of all childcare, increased inspections and investment in training for childcare workers.
“In addition to these childcare measures families will also benefit from a reduction in class sizes in primary school to 27 pupils to 1 teacher (the lowest level they have ever been), 2260 additional primary and post-primary teachers in 2016 and an extension of free GP care to all children under 12.