Local TD Denis Naughten is urging parents to enrol their children now to ensure that they can avail of the new free pre-school year in Early Childhood Care and Education, which starts on January 1 next.
“Many parents may not be aware that they need to register their child in advance to avail of the new free pre-school year scheme which starts in January,” said Deputy Naughten.
“In many areas there are not enough childcare places to cater for all children who are eligible under the scheme and as a result parents could lose up to €2,400 per year.
“And this is on top of losing the Early Childcare Supplement of €41.50 per month per child, which will be withdrawn on January 1 for all children, and replaced with the free pre-school year of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE ) for all children between the ages of three years three months and four years six months.”
Deputy Naughten, who was visiting the Early Days preschool in Bealnamulla, Athlone, said: “Many parents are struggling to make ends meet at present and the loss of the early childcare supplement will put additional pressure on them.
“In addition, losing out on the free pre-school year will not only leave them at a financial loss, but may leave their children at a disadvantage when starting in primary school. While the Government’s motives behind the introduction of the pre-school year are deeply flawed it is however a valuable scheme which can be availed of by every parent.”
The ECCE is open to all children aged between three years three months and four years six months on September 1 each year. To avail of the free pre-school year in January 2010, children must have been born between February 2 2005 and June 30 2006. Exemptions can be made where children are over the eligibility age requirement due to special needs or by virtue of the local national school’s entry age policy.
If you would like further information regarding the free pre-school year scheme you should contact the Westmeath County Childcare Committee at (044 ) 9335454 or the Roscommon County Childcare Committee on (094 ) 9622540.
“With limited places available in some areas I would encourage parents to enrol their child now to secure a place for 2010,” concluded Deputy Naughten.