Thousands of parents using childminders must wait until 2024 to access new childcare subsidies

Government announced 90 cent increase in the hourly subsidy as part of Budget 2023, in a move which could cut childcare by 25 per cent

Thousands of parents who employ childminders will not be in a position to avail of the Government’s National Childcare Scheme until 2024, Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman has said.

As part of Budget 2023, the Government announced increased subsidies for parents using the childcare scheme, with the hourly rate increasing from 50c per hour up to €1.40 per hour. The changes will apply from next January and could be worth up to €2,106 per child.

However childminders who are not registered with Tusla, the child and family agency, cannot be considered for the scheme. There is no centralised registration system for childminders, who typically work in people’s homes, but it is estimated there are 15,000 childminders in Ireland. Less than 80 are registered with Tusla.

Speaking at a post-budget press conference on Wednesday, Mr O’Gorman said his department now intends to bring childminders under the umbrella of the scheme but this will not be possible until the end of 2023 or early 2024.


“The child-minding action plan sets out a process whereby we would create a simplified regulation system for childminders recognising they are very different from centre-based child minding and that the system needs to be simpler,” Mr O’Gorman said.

Under Government plans, childminders will have to register with Tusla, receive Garda vetting, have insurance, face inspections and attend various training. He said the plan was to “get them registered, then parents using their services will be able to draw down the NCS [National Childcare Scheme] as well. I think it will probably be the latter part of 2023 and early 2024 when we would be able to achieve that. But that is certainly a core goal for me and for the department because we recognise a very substantial number of parents rely on childminders”.

Asked about parents who cannot access creches because they may be full, and so must use childminders and cannot avail of the childcare scheme, he said: “Capacity is a really important issue which we are very focused on. What we found is that one of the things core funding does, as well as provide money for the services, as well as paying staff better, it incentivises providers to provide additional capacity. Since increased core funding has been introduced we have seen a 7 per cent increase in capacity for under-ones and a 22 per cent increase in capacity for under-threes.”

He said his department would also be seeking capital funding for the sector and would also be speaking to developers to ensure that creches built in new developments are actually kitted out and used.

Mr O’Gorman unveiled a budget package worth €403 million which he said brings State investment in early learning and childcare to more than €1 billion. He said this was five years in advance of target.

From January 2023, all families accessing registered early learning and care as well as school-age childcare will receive a minimum hourly universal subsidy of €1.40 off the cost of childcare, an increase of 90 cent. For parents on the minimum subsidy this will mean up to €3,276 off their annual bill for each child. At present up to €1,170 is available every year, meaning the changes could be worth up to €2,106 per child.

Separately Mr O’Gorman also confirmed that he plans to bring a memo to Cabinet next month to get the Mother and Baby Home redress scheme up and running.

“I hope to bring legislation to Cabinet in October and bring it rapidly through the Dáil and Seanad.” He said he hoped to have it passed by the end of the year.

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times