Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children & Youth Affairs Anne Rabbitte has criticised a move by Minister Zappone, which could see serious backlogs in the Garda vetting system as a result of new regulations brought in as part of the Single Affordable Childcare Scheme.

All childminders, including grandparents will be required to undergo Garda vetting if they register for the Single Affordable Childcare Scheme.

“I am very worried that this new vetting requirement will cause serious delays for parents in accessing the Single Affordable Childcare Scheme and I am calling for assurances from Minister Zappone that the necessary resources will be allocated to the vetting service so that the procedure can be carried out in a timely manner so that parents are not penalised”, said Deputy Rabbitte.

“We know that childcare costs in Ireland are among the highest in Europe and that they are keeping many parents out of the workforce. Rather than addressing this issue properly, the Minister has chosen to rush the announcement of the Single Affordable Childcare scheme in a bid to grab the headlines.

“While Fianna Fáil supports the principles of this scheme, we are extremely concerned by its implementation, which has been haphazard and poorly thought-out. On the same day as the announcement it emerged that the Government’s failure to rollout the necessary ICT infrastructure meant that as many as 9,000 families were unable to access their full subsidy.

“Now, we learn that the Minister has no plan to help child minders to register for the scheme.  As it stands, grandparents are one of the most common forms of childcare in the State, with an estimated 42% of working parents relying on grandparents for some or all of their childcare needs.

“To be eligible for support under the Single Affordable Childcare scheme, however, grandparents must register with Tusla, a process which requires Garda vetting and references. How long will that process take? How will Gardaí handle the huge influx of vetting applications? We need assurances from the Minister that the necessary resources will be allocated to ensure that this process will not delay parents and grandparents from applying for the Single Affordable Childcare Scheme.  This initiative is meant to assist parents, not put roadblocks in their way and I am calling on Minister Zappone to give a guarantee that this process will be carried out swiftly”.