Free childcare scheme for children affected by homelessness

Figures show over 2,177 children are among those accessing emergency accommodation

Free childcare scheme for children affected by homelessness

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The Government is to launch a new childcare scheme for children affected by homelessness.

Children's Minister Dr Katherine Zappone, who has just returned from an official visit to Greece, will announce details of the scheme on Thursday.

It is being billed as a "major initiative" by the department.

In a statement Wednesday, Minister Zappone said: "This initiative grew as a direct response to issues raised by people who are homeless, frontline organisations and campaigners during a summit - hosted in my office during the summer.

"Since then my officials have been working in partnership with Dublin City and County Childcare Committees and Focus Ireland for the roll out of a scheme which will benefit children and their families on a daily basis.

"It is my hope that the details we will announce will help ease the huge childcare burden on families impacted by the current crisis", she added.

Figures from Focus Ireland show there are 6,525 people 'officially homeless' in Ireland.

This figure includes adults and children with their families.

The number of families becoming homeless has increased by over 40% since last year - and one in three of those in emergency accommodation is now a child.

In June 2016, there were over 1,000 families accessing emergency accommodation, which included over 2,177 children.