9th October 2014

Fine Gael TD for Kildare North, Anthony Lawlor, is urging the Minister to address the exorbitant cost of childcare in Budget 2015. In his Pre Budget Submission, Deputy Lawlor has outlined a number of options to lower the costs involved for struggling parents, has looked at international examples to take direction from and concludes that an extension to the Free Pre School Year would be the most beneficial to both families and children.

“Childcare costs continue to be unnecessarily prohibitive to parents in Ireland. Indeed in some cases a parent may decide to remain in the home as a full time parent as this option is more financially beneficial than returning to the workforce. In the current climate it is essential that as many people as possible are encouraged to enter the workforce, if they so wish. I appreciate that the Minister is very aware of the ongoing problems associated with childcare costs but I am urging him to again look at this issue from a practical point of view. Options that I have researched are are available to him include:

a) Tax relief on childcare costs.

b) A Government supported childcare initiative similar to the Danish mode

d) Extend Early Childhood Care & Education Scheme

“Taking into consideration the current economic climate, I believe that the third Option of extending the ECCE Scheme to a second year is the most plausible solution for the immediate term. Currently there are 68,000 children availing of this service, at a cost to the state of €175 million per year. By extending this scheme to a second year, a significant number of children and families will be brought within the remit of the scheme, hugely benefitting families struggling to pay for childcare. More importantly however, research indicates that the ECCE Scheme has a positive learning impact on young children in terms of improving their social, confidence, speech and language skills, and better equips them for commencing school. This option appears to be a win-win for families and children and I will continue to press it with the Minister”.