An increase to the number of weeks of Early Childhood Care and Education children will be eligible for, announced under Budget 2018, has been called a “step in the right direction”, but problems still remain.
This is the view of Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Children and Youth Affairs, Anne Rabbitte, who has expressed concern that the scheme has left the parents of more than one million children, who are either too young or too old to qualify for it, “without an alternative affordable childcare option”.
Dep Rabbitte said childcare costs - the average full-time Early Years childcare place cost €167 per week in 2016 - can represent up to 35 per cent of an average family’s income. “For too many families,” she said, “that is simply too much to bear and keeps an alarming number of women out of the workforce”.
However Dep Rabbitte said she was “pleased” to see an increase in the Home Carer tax credit, which will rise from €1,100 to €1,200, which she said “will make a big difference to stay at home parents”.