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Vague Pre-School Year Proposals – Fine Gael Challenges Government

childcareNorth Tipperary TD Deputy Noel Coonan wants the Government to outline exact number of North Tipperary children who will be eligible under the new Pre-Schools Scheme.

Numerous North Tipperary children may be unable to avail of this scheme promised by the Government in last April’s budget because the scheme’s capped payment is below what some child providers charge.

Deputy Noel Coonan expressed deep distress that Fianna Fáil, the Greens and Independents are giving families further ‘false hope’ with proposals that seem unworkable.

Under the new scheme, the Government will pay pre-schools a maximum of €64.50 to cover three hours of early childhood education for five days each week. That works out at a monthly payment of €254 for a four-week month. However, Deputy Coonan outlined that some preschool providers charge above this payment a month for 15 hours a week.

Deputy Coonan stated:

“The Irish Preschool Play Association is worried that the subsidised amount will now not cover existing costs. I believe their concerns are very real because only pre-schools which accept €64.50 a week can take part in the scheme. In the local elections the absence of information on the introduction of the Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Scheme has been a recurring worry for North Tipperary families. Cash-strapped families who are losing the Early Childcare Supplement at the end of this year are especially concerned.When the scheme was first announced no information was made available to parents and pre-school providers.  Even now, almost two months later, parents across North Tipperary have no idea how the scheme will work or where it will operate. For the sake of openness, the Government must outline the number of children who can avail of the scheme in my constituency,”

A Fine Gael private members motion this week is challenging the Government to outline exactly how the scheme will operate for both parents and providers. The Government will also be asked to outline the exact number of eligible children by county and the location of participating service providers.

Deputy Coonan further stated:

“I’m hoping our motion will force the Government to reveal information to North Tipperary families about whether they can fully avail of this scheme.”

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