Longford County Childcare Committee welcomes increase in Back to School Allowance

'Modest' increase in allowance is an 'acknowledgement' that families need support

Jessica Thompson

Reporter:

Jessica Thompson

Email:

jessica.thompson@longfordleader.ie

Lorraine Farrell, LCCC

Coordinator of Longford County Childcare Committee, Lorraine Farrell, says this funding is vital for Longford

Longford County Childcare Committee (LCCC) has welcome a decision by the government to reduce back to school costs for families.

The announcement, made by Fianna Gael TD Peter Burke last week, comes at a time when Longford families are scrambling to purchase uniforms, books and supplies for the upcoming academic year.

This year, the government will spend more than €47 million on the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance - that's a funding increase of 25% to help ease the pressure on families.

“194,000 children across the country will benefit from the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance. It is increasing from €100 to €125 for children aged 4-11 and from €200 to €250 for children aged 12 years and over. This will benefit Longford significantly," said Burke.

The LCCC has welcomed the announcement stating that the increase will be of help to families under pressure at this busy time of year.

"While the increase is modest, it is an acknowledgement that this is a time when vulnerable families need support," said Lorraine Farrell, Coordinator of LCCC.

"From our interactions with parents and childcare providers within the county we understand that this can be a stressful time financially for parents with children of all ages. We try to support parents at this time by encouraging them to check out their entitlements for this allowance or by contacting us in the office for support."

Earlier this month, the Longford Leader published a feature on the support that parents may be entitled to. To read about these entitlements, see: Longford County Childcare Committee urges parents to check out entitlements.

"Parents may also be entitled to assistance with their after school care costs, which is an alternative route to easing the financial burden of returning to school," said Ms Farrell.

"Parents should contact us to inquire about the After School Childcare Scheme for children aged between 4 and 11 years and Community Employment After School Scheme which caters for children up to 13 years of age.

"We do acknowledge, however, that some families will not qualify for any of these supports and in this case we encourage families to think creatively on how to save money in our difficult economic climate."

In fact, Ms Farrell has kindly offered some advice for parents who want to save money while preparing their children for their return to school.

These top tips include:

  • Shopping around for generic uniforms that don’t necessarily have to carry the school crest such as skirts, pinafores and trousers.

  • Label all items! "With the best will in the world, a school jumper thrown over a goalpost in an exciting game of gaelic at break time will be forgotten about!" said Ms Farrell. "Labelling doesn’t have to be expensive. I use an ordinary permanent marker."
  • Ask your school if they offer a book rental scheme. "It’s becoming more popular. If they don’t, encourage them to look into it. Failing this, ask your local book supplier if second hand books are available to buy."

  • "In LCCC we consistently encourage healthy eating and a little time spent planning your family's weekday lunch menu before doing the shopping can be good for your child's health and can end up saving you some money not to mention reducing stress levels!" she said.

"As the local hub for parents for all childcare-related queries, parents should contact us with any queries. If we don’t know the answer, we’ll do our best to find it out!

"We will be in all libraries in Longford the week beginning August 21st and parents are welcome to pop in for a chat," Ms Farrell concluded.

Details of these library times are available on the LCCC website: www.longfordchildcare.ie