Monday 23rd September 2019
The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. Katherine Zappone TD is today (Monday, 23rd September) commencing a communications campaign on the National Childcare Scheme.
The Minister wishes to ensure that parents are aware of the forthcoming Scheme and ready to apply once it opens later this year. The National Childcare Scheme is set to open to parents and providers on the 29th October with payments flowing from November.
“I am delighted that we are in the final phase of completion of this highly complex and hugely important project. The National Childcare Scheme will assist thousands of families to access high quality and affordable early learning and care and school age childcare.”
The National Childcare Scheme is the first ever statutory entitlement to financial support for childcare in Ireland. It aims to improve outcomes for children, support lifelong learning and working families, reduce child poverty and tangibly reduce the cost of quality childcare for thousands of families across Ireland. Importantly, it will also provide a robust and flexible platform for future investment in childcare in Ireland.
Acknowledging that parents should have choice in how they apply to the Scheme, it has always been designed so they can apply online or by post. The initial roll out of the National Childcare Scheme will be on a phased basis, as per the expert recommendation of those overseeing the development of the Scheme. The online system will be available from October 29th. The paper based (i.e. postal) application system will be available in January 2020 for those who do not wish to apply online. From this point on, parents can apply either via the online or the postal route. A Public Services Card (PSC) and verified MyGovID account are required to apply online only.
In relation to the Data Protection Commissioner’s (DPC) report and published findings on certain aspects of the Public Services Card (PSC), the Government and the Attorney General have carefully considered the findings of the report, including the legal basis for the use of the PSC by specified bodies or persons (such as the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs).
The Government has agreed to challenge the findings of the report, as based on the legal advice received, it does not believe the DPC’s findings are correct in law. The advice of the Attorney General’s Office is that there is a strong legal basis for the continued public service wide use of the PSC.
The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection is continuing to engage with the DPC on this issue. Officials in the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) will, in turn, continue to liaise with that Department.
In launching the communications campaign for the Scheme, the Minister pledged: “My Department and I are committed to delivering the National Childcare Scheme as planned and, in so doing, assisting thousands of families to access high quality and affordable early learning and care and school age childcare.”
To ensure continuity of service for both parents and providers, the existing childcare support programmes will continue to operate until the launch of the National Childcare Scheme and for the 2019/2020 programme year. Children registered on these schemes will be able to remain on them for the duration of the academic year or switch over to the National Childcare Scheme once it launches.
A Parent Support Centre for the National Childcare Scheme is open and available to assist parents or guardians with any queries regarding the new National Childcare Scheme. It is open Monday to Friday from 9:00am – 5:00pm and parents can contact the centre by calling (01) 906 8530. Information on the Scheme is also available on our website at: www.ncs.gov.ie.