Childcare is often declared to be the second mortgage of many homes. Personally, it makes up almost as much as our rent per month, and we only have one child. It’s a major outlay and can really have some families in a bind as to whether both parents working is actually financially worth it. The price of childcare differs dependent on your needs and what form parents use – au pairs, creche, montessori, in house childminders, childminders in their own homes, grandparents and family members. So, how do we ensure we have affordable childcare?
In late 2016, a Pobal survey of 4,300 childcare providers throughout the Republic of Ireland found that the average full time childcare place was €167 per week. If you’re living in the urban centres of the country, this increases, the highest on average being in DunLaoghaire-Rathdown at €214. On looking at the figures for Cork City, I’m finding the average there (€179) to be a bit lower than any that I looked at when we were hunting for a creche. At an average of €167 a week, that comes to almost €8700 a year, per child. It is easy to see where the disincentive to work lies for those with more children, as it barely becomes financially viable to work outside of the home.
The Irish government has been slow to remedy this, but there have been advancements in recent years. While they don’t take everyone into account (most only applying to Tusla-registered childcare providers), it is a move towards making affordable childcare available for everyone to encourage re-entry into the workplace.
So, what Affordable Childcare Schemes are available?
If your child is under 6 months old, you may qualify for a means-tested childcare subsidy of up to €145 per week. To see if you qualify for this childcare support click here.
If your child is aged between 6 months and 36 months and is enrolled in Tusla-registered childcare, you are eligible for a non means-tested universal childcare subsidy of up to €20 per week. Children must be enrolled in TUSLA registered childcare services in order to avail of the universal subsidy. You can find a list of TUSLA registered childcare providers here. To apply for the subsidy, ask your childcare provider, or get in contact with the local City/County Childcare Committee (CCC)
The ECCE scheme has been in place since the budget of 2010, when one year of Early Years Education was agreed to be paid for by the state. Since then, a second year has been added since September 2016. Children who are three years or older at the induction date are eligible, until they are 5 and a half.
The State pays a capitation fee to participating play schools and daycare services. In return, they provide a pre-school service free of charge to all children within the qualifying age range for a set number of hours over a set period of weeks. These weeks coincide with the normal school year. As of the introduction of the second year, three induction points were introduced, September, December and April.
If your child attends a half-day or “sessional” service, such as a playschool, naíonra, Montessori or parent and toddler group, the normal pattern for the free pre-school year(s) is 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, over the school year. If your child attends for more than 3 hours, you will be charged for the extra time.
If your child’s sessional service cannot open for 5 days a week, the normal pattern for the free pre-school year is 3 hours and 30 minutes a day, 4 days a week, over the school year. This only applies to services which have already been granted permission to run their service over the school year.
If your child attends a full-time or part-time daycare service, the normal pattern for the free pre-school year is 3 hours per day over the school year. If your child attends for longer than this each day, you will be charged for the extra time. You will also be charged for the extra number of weeks attended.
You enrol your child as normal by approaching your chosen preschool and filling in the preschool’s enrolment forms, the provider will give you an ECCE pre enrolment form in Sept (or later for Jan and April entry) which you fill in and give back to them, they then send that in. The childcare provider receives the grant directly, so there’s no further issues there. You’ll be given notice of any further charges (outings, optional extras) by them and a calendar of the ECCE dates for that year.
The ECCE grant reduces full time care by €64.50 a week, which really does add up!
Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) Programme
Further to the two schemes above, which aren’t means tested, there are schemes in place which are means tested for further funding of childcare. Under the Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) Programme disadvantaged parents and parents in training, education or low paid employment can avail of childcare at reduced rates. The childcare is provided by community-based (not-for-profit) childcare services who are participating in the CCS Programme. Eliott is in a Community Creche and it is absolutely brilliant, so close knit and caring.
Parents cannot get the ECCE and a CCS fee reduction at the same time. It is up to you which one you choose, once you see which one will benefit you more.
To apply for this scheme, you apply through your childcare provider. As long as they are on the list of community-based non profit childcare services, and you fit the brackets listed in the infographic, you’ll be able to apply.
For more information on this, and any other funding scheme for early years education or childcare, check out the website of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.
Hopefully this post will be of some assistance to you – and you’ll have found something in it to save you money you’re spending on childcare. Every few euros helps!
If I’ve left anything vitally important out, or you’ve experienced any of these schemes and have something to say, comment below, I’d love to hear from you!
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