Automated online childcare supports to start early next year, Dáil told

Tánaiste Fitzgerald responds as Labour leader raises problems with IT system

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald: “Work is being done on the IT system.” Photograph: Eric Luke

A fully automated online system for parents accessing childcare supports will be available from early next year, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald told the Dáil. “It will be much more efficient in terms of administration,’’ she said.

She was replying to Labour leader Brendan Howlin who said neither the legislation nor the IT system was ready for the introduction of the “small limited start’’ in childcare supports.

Mr Howlin said the Government had made political capital from promising a childcare scheme that would be progressive and help families who needed it most, but it would do no such thing.

“The existing targeted supports for the lowest income families will be retained but that is not progress,’’ he added. “That is standing still.’’


He said families would just get €20 a month in childcare compared with a monthly cost of more than €1,000.

Ms Fitzgerald said from September, up to 33,000 children, aged from six months to 36 months, and availing of registered childcare, would benefit from the new universal scheme.

She said more than 70,000 families would have reduced childcare costs and the full cohort would receive the subsidies once the IT systems were in place. She added that paternity leave had been introduced for the first time.

Mr Howlin said the Government had, since February, to be honest with people and tell them it would not happen in the timeline set out in the budget.

Ms Fitzgerald said Minister for Children Katherine Zappone was examining the legislation required and regarded it as a priority.

“Work is being done on the IT system that needs to be put in place to reach that groups of families,’’ she said.

Michael O'Regan

Michael O'Regan

Michael O’Regan is a former parliamentary correspondent of The Irish Times