Taoiseach defends exclusion of stay-at-home parents from childcare scheme

Enda Kenny says childminders can become eligible for subsidies if they register with Tusla

Taoiseach defends exclusion of stay-at-home parents from childcare scheme

Taoiseach Enda Kenny | File photo: RollingNews.ie

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has defended the decision not to give childcare subsidies to stay-at-home parents.

Means-tested childcare subsidies, based on income, will be available for children between six months and 15 years from September 2017.

This is in addition to universal weekly payments of up to €20 for all children from six months to three years, which will be set in line with the number of childcare hours taken up by parents.

Both will only apply to children being cared for by Tusla-registered providers, but Mr Kenny confirmed in the Dáil this afternoon that childminders will be able to benefit once they sign up with the family agency.

He said that some mothers may decide to remain at home or have another member of the family look after their child while they work.

"We are very clear that early years really do benefit children into adulthood," he told TDs. 

"The budget this year is following through on progress on that."

It came following questioning by Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Ruth Coppinger, who had sought clarification on whether people who have childminders would be included in the scheme.

In response, Mr Kenny said: "In respect of those [unregistered] childminders who are members of the family … clearly, the government recognises the work they do as an essential part of family life in Ireland, as it has been for generations.

"But if the state wishes to subsidise children's care, we need to know where the children are and who their childminders are.

"That is a responsibility the state has to comply with. Childminders in that situation who have their children at home can, of course, register with Tusla first if they wish to benefit, but that is a choice they make."

He also highlighted that the home carer's tax credit is being increased by 10% to €1,100 from January 1st.