Local childcare services receive funding boost

Nine childcare providers in Westmeath have received €41,711.71 in Government funding to enhance their facilities and expand services for after-school care.

Local beneficiaries include: Busy Kids Creche on the Ballymahon Road, Athlone, which received €5,000; Grovelands Childcare, Athlone IDA, which received €4,625; and Naionra na Cre Duibhne, Coosan, which was allocated €2,678.

Fine Gael Deputy for Longford-Westmeath, Peter Burke, welcomed the announcement.

“The Minister has allocated the money for the provision of age-appropriate play equipment to stimulate children mentally and physically and to improve services,” he said. “With 263 individual projects set to be funded, our children right across the country will reap the benefits.

“This extra money was awarded after detailed consultation with childcare providers and children who use these after school childcare services. After surveys and research, many children said that they would prefer to go home when they finish school in the afternoon rather than to various forms of childcare. This funding will mean that when going home is not an option for many kids, their childcare will simulate many of the characteristics of a healthy home environment, including the comforts and activities children enjoy there.”

Senator Gabrielle McFadden said the funding is a sign that Fine Gael is delivering on its election commitment to help ease the financial cost of childcare.

“This funding builds on the €69,000 already allocated to help new and existing services to increase capacity and improve the quality of childcare services, bringing the total to €127,280 this summer alone,” Senator McFadden said.

“New childcare supports coming on stream this September will benefit up to 70,000 children. A new universal childcare subsidy of up to €1,040 per year is available for children aged from six months up to starting their free pre-school year (ECCE Scheme ) at 36 months.

“In addition to this universal payment, there will also be further childcare supports for families who need them most. Families on lower incomes, who qualify by way of a means test, will be eligible for supports worth up to €7,500 per year for children aged six months to 15 years of age.

“The aim is to ensure that parents previously prevented from taking up jobs, training or education because of the cost of childcare, will now be able to do so.”

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