The present Government is wholeheartedly dedicated to nurturing the country’s youth, according to Athlone-based Senator, Gabrielle McFadden.
Senator McFadden says that initiatives introduced in the last week alone, including an extra payment to childcare service providers, a 25 per cent increase in the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, and the announcement of more than €90,000 of additional funding for enhanced safety measures and play areas for schools in Westmeath and Longford, are proof of the Government’s commitment in this area.
“The Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance is increasing from €100 to €125 for children aged four to 11, and from €200 to €250 for children aged 12 years and over,” Senator McFadden said. “Last year, over 5,400 payments were made to families in Longford and Westmeath.
“The average sum paid out last year was €258, which is a significant help at an expensive time of year and a 25 per cent increase on that helps even further. Enhanced eligibility criteria mean that more and more children are availing of subsidised childcare. This additional payment, equivalent to an additional seven days funding, is to the childcare providers and makes a contribution towards the administration and non-contact hour costs involved in providing quality childcare.”
Senator McFadden added that the CLÁR programme provides funding for small-scale capital projects in rural areas that have experienced significant levels of depopulation.
“Last week’s announcements include funding for play areas for national schools in Ballymahon and Emper and parking and safety measures in Fore and Granard,” she said.
“The most direct way to get people out of poverty is to help them get a job and that has been the primary focus of Government with over 200,000 more people in employment since 2012. After that the next most effective intervention is in educating and supporting young people, and that is why this has always been a priority, even when resources were short.
“These recent announcements are just a few examples of the ongoing commitment from Government to invest strategically as funding becomes available.”