Children aged 0-5 years to benefit from €8.25m change to the Community Childcare Subvention Scheme

Statement by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone

Thursday 15th December, 2016

Children aged 0-5 years whose parents are homeless are to be offered free childcare for 25-hours a week under an change to the Community Childcare Subvention scheme announced by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone.

Families registered as homeless in the Dublin region are to benefit from next month with funding of €8.25m being made available – other areas are also expected to follow.

85% of children listed as homeless are in the Dublin area.

Making the announcement Minister Zappone said:

“This is an important initiative targeting a particularly vulnerable group of children who need additional supports given their situation.

The provision of up to 25 hours of free childcare a week to include a daily meal will lift a huge burden from families.

The scheme is also designed to help those transitioning from homelessness to permanent accommodation.

Focus Ireland will work closely with my Department to identify eligible families. The Dublin based City and County Childcare Committees will encourage and support relevant childcare providers to engage with the scheme.

The scheme is being available within Dublin initially as 85% (2,110) of homeless children across the state are within Dublin. We will work to extend the scheme to other areas outside of Dublin.

The scheme will start next month and I have asked officials to start identifying families who qualify and inform them of this new entitlement.”

Speaking at the launch of the new initiative, Catherine Maher, National Director of Services at Focus Ireland, said.

“As the lead charity working with families that are homeless, Focus Ireland has been very concerned for some time about the problems these families face in accessing early childhood supports. Early childhood supports are important for most families, but they are particularly important for children struggling with the fact that their families are currently homeless. We warmly welcome the Minister Zappone’s recognition of this problem, and her rapid action in addressing it, leading to the new initiative she is announcing today.

Of course the €8.25m funding is very important, but what is particularly welcome is the way in which the initiative has been flexibly designed to recognise the particular difficulties which these families experience. I want to particularly acknowledge the dedication of the staff in the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and their willingness to combine their expertise with ours in designing the scheme. I think it demonstrates again that collaboration between all agencies involved in this issue is the best way to tackle the enormous problem of family homelessness which confronts us.”