Call for parents to receive tax credit for directly employing their own childminder

The proposal would mean the childminder would have the same rights as any worker

Call for parents to receive tax credit for directly employing their own childminder

Katie O'Connell at the CHQ Building in Dublin in 2016 | Image: Gael

There’s a call for parents to receive a tax credit for directly employing their own childminder in the home.

Two Fine Gael TDs are tabling the proposal - which would be an 'opt in policy' - arguing that it would mean more children could be looked after in their own environment.

It would mean the childminder would receive the benefits of a worker, instead of informal arrangements such as 'cash in hand'.

Deputy Kate O’Connell, who has put forward the proposal alongside colleague Maria Bailey, suggests such an arrangement would also suit many parents.

She explained: "For a lot of people, a formalised creche setting doesn't work. 

"If you take people who work nine to five, obviously it does work. But if you have a situation where somebody is perhaps a guard; or a nurse who works nights; or perhaps not living where they grew up, so they have no family support... the formalised creche setting does not work for those people."

She added: "If you have maybe four children under four or five, it's not feasible to load up four children into a car, and get them to a childminder or formalised setting in the morning.

"Also the price of that... a creche in Dublin is around the €1,000 mark. Down the country, it can be somewhere around €650-750."

However, Frances Byrne from Early Childhood Ireland says the proposal is way ahead of its time and more public investment is needed first.

She observed: "Ireland has been historical well behind in terms of public investment in early years, and that's what needs to improve.

"The answer from our point of view is not a tax break - that is not the way to go. We're not there yet - it would be a long, long time before we can even consider that. There's a lot more investment that needs to be made."

Reporting by Stephanie Grogan & Stephen McNeice