Fine Gael Kildare South TD Martin Heydon has today (Friday) said that the announcement by Minister for Children, Katherine Zappone, of an expansion to the Early Childhood Care and Education Programme, (ECCE), will be of huge benefit to working parents in Co. Kildare.
“Thanks to a major expansion of the free preschool scheme known as the ECCE, thousands of extra children across the country are going to be able to access free preschool places.
“All children reaching three years of age are now entitled to a free preschool place, meaning that 85,000 children are now eligible for the scheme nationwide. Previously children were entitled to one free year. Eligible children will now be able access the expanded ECCE Programme across two (and in some cases three) school years. In previous years, eligible children were only permitted to access the ECCE Programme from the September of that preschool year, two further eligibility entry points have been added, in January and April, to facilitate additional access.
“This Government is determined to use the fruits of our recent economic success to assist families who struggled through the years of the recession. Childcare is a big issue for many of these families and savings through the use of this scheme will help to ease their financial burden significantly.
“As well as the financial benefits, international studies show that children who take part in schemes such as the ECCE, have better outcomes later in life, particularly those children experiencing disadvantage.
“Aside from access to childcare, Minister Zappone has also highlighted the need to support the childcare sector to provide a quality service. In that context I welcome that the first meeting of the National Early Childcare Forum will take place at the end of September.”