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New Childcare Support Bill passed by Oireachtas

Childcare Support Bill is passed by the Oireachtas

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, “delighted to introduce the first ever legislation on childcare support for families”.

For the first time, families to enjoy a clear, legal entitlement to financial support for childcare.

Tuesday 26th June 2018

The legislation establishing the new Affordable Childcare Scheme- the Childcare Support Bill- completed its passage through the Houses of the Oireachtas this evening, and is expected to be enacted in the coming days.

The groundbreaking legislation is a first.  For the first time ever, childcare support is enshrined in primary legislation.  There will be a clear legal entitlement to financial support for childcare costs, benefiting generations of families to come.  The Childcare Support Bill 2017 was published in December and has received widespread, cross-party support as it travelled through the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Once launched, the Affordable Childcare Scheme will provide financial support to help reduce the cost of childcare for parents. Through this financial support, the scheme aims to improve access; assist families to return to work and training; reduce child poverty; and improve outcomes for children. 

“I believe everyone is aware of the importance of delivering accessible, affordable, quality childcare to families in Ireland. It is a key priority of this government and will require sustained investment and momentum over the coming years to achieve the childcare system that families in Ireland both need and deserve,” commented Minister Zappone. 

“In establishing the Affordable Childcare Scheme, the Bill creates a platform with the ability to flex and expand to allow more children and families to benefit from greater State investment in childcare in the years ahead.  In short, it is an essential foundation for my pledge to transform our childcare system from one of the most expensive in the world to one of the best.  We cannot make that step-change without it.”

The development of the administrative and IT infrastructure for the new scheme is well under way. Minister Zappone will outline timescales for the launch of the scheme once the external IT developer is fully in place.

In the meantime, there is continued growth in the number of children who have benefited from the childcare supports put in place in September 2017 to lower the cost of childcare for families.  The families of more than 76,000 children have already benefited from such supports since last September.

Parents interested in knowing more about their childcare entitlements should go to


Note to Editors

The Affordable Childcare Scheme (ACS) was announced as part of Budget 2016 Measures. The ACS will replace the government’s existing targeted childcare subvention schemes with a single, streamlined scheme. It will contain both universal and enhanced income-based supports for families.

The Affordable Childcare Scheme will:

  •     ensure that access to affordable childcare is not a barrier to labour market participation, including female labour market participation;

  •     promote positive child outcomes;

  •     narrow the gap in attainment between more and less advantaged children by enabling all children to access high quality, affordable childcare;

  •     drive quality across the sector and, crucially;

  •     through the above objectives, contribute to poverty reduction in Ireland.

The Childcare Support Bill provides for both income-related financial support, allowing the targeting of support towards parents who face the greatest financial difficulty in affording childcare, and non-income related financial support, allowing a level of support for all parents with children of a prescribed age who use registered childcare services.

In addition, the Childcare Support Bill allows for additional support for families where there is an identified need for childcare on grounds of child development or child welfare. The Act enables the establishment of an income assessment process that will largely be carried out on an automated basis through data-sharing arrangements with other Government Departments and agencies, thus improving administrative efficiency and streamlining application and registration procedures for parents and for childcare service providers.