Updated: 30/08/17 : 05:50:17
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Crèches hiking fees before subsidy rollout next week

Several crèches across the country have increased fees ahead of the Government’s introduction next week of a new subsidy which is intended to lower the cost of childcare for parents.

Some public representatives have received reports from parents that early childcare providers are increasing fees ahead of the subsidy’s introduction.

Brian Hayes MEP said the Government’s Affordable Childcare Scheme already being abused by some private childcare providers and that Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone must urgently look at ways of safe-guarding parents against extortionate childcare fee hikes.

“These hikes have got to be regulated by the department, and fast, I am calling on Minister Zappone to shine a light on this area and ensure that those privately owned creches and childcare services which are hoping to make a killing on this scheme don’t win,” Mr Hayes said.

Minister Zappone said her “department is closely monitoring prices, and will make recommendations . . . if action is required”.

'Administrative burden'

One Dublin creche owner, John Hale of Magic Years, who is imposing an 8 per cent increase said while the increase in fees was not directly related to the introduction of the new childcare subsidy, the scheme had put a “substantial additional administrative burden on operators”.

"It means more paperwork, more administration. There were many concerns regarding the capacity to process the new scheme ahead of its introduction,” he said.

Parents register for the scheme through their childcare provider, and the subsidy is paid directly to each provider, with the intention that savings would be passed on.

Ms Zappone said the Department of Children has set aside €18 million in funding, part of which is going towards supporting childcare providers in managing additional administration work.

“Changing one of the most expensive childcare systems in the world into the best was never going to be easy,” Ms Zappone said. “It was never going to be achieved in one budget . . . I have been clear from the outset we are correcting years of under-investment and much more is needed.”

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