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Social welfare: All the support options for parents as kids head back to school

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Kids are heading back to school over the next few weeks, and it can be a costly time for many families with several children returning.

From uniform and stationery costs to food and after-school care, things can add up.

So here are all of the support options in place for parents as we approach another school year:

Child Benefit

Child Benefit is a monthly payment of €140 to support parents and guardians. It is paid for each child who:

  • normally lives with you and is being fully supported by you
  • is under 16, or under 18 if in full-time education, full-time training or has a disability and cannot support themselves
  • Child Benefit is not paid on behalf of children 18 or older, even if they stay in education or training

After School Childcare Scheme

This Scheme provides supports to low-income and unemployed people to:

  • take up a job
  • increase working hours
  • take part in a department employment programme
  • help with after-school childcare for up to 5 days per week at a daily rate of €3 per day per child (€15 per week per child)

The scheme also provides full-day childcare during school holidays at no additional cost to the parent.

You may be eligible for the scheme if:

  • you have one or more children aged 4 – 13
  • you have been getting one of the following payments for more than three months; Jobseeker’s Allowance, Jobseeker’s Benefit, Jobseeker’s Transitional payment or One-Parent Family Payment
  • you are on an employment support programme
  • you are on the Working Family Payment for any length of time and increase your working hours
  • you are signing for Jobseeker’s Benefit Credits only

If you are deemed eligible for the scheme, you can get childcare for €3 per child per day (€15 per week).

So, if you have two children aged between 4 and 13, then you would pay €30 per week.

Back to Education Allowance

If you are unemployed, a single parent, or have a disability and are getting other payments from the department, you could enroll in a second-or third-level education course in Ireland or Northern Ireland and get a Back to Education Allowance.

It is only paid for courses that start in Ireland or in Northern Ireland, but you can be paid Back to Education Allowance for a year abroad if it is a mandatory part of your course.

If you are getting the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment and you would like to start a second-or-third-level course, the Back to Education Allowance may be available to you.

If attending a third-level course, you must have been getting one of the below payments for 9 months or more:

  • Jobseeker’s Allowance or Jobseeker’s Benefit
  • Jobseeker’s Transitional Payment
  • Farm Assist
  • One-Parent Family Payment
  • Deserted Wife’s Benefit or Allowance
  • Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s (Contributory) Pension
  • Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s (Non-contributory) Pension
  • Prisoner’s Wife’s Allowance
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Blind Pension
  • Disability Allowance
  • Invalidity Pension
  • Incapacity Supplement (based on a life Disablement Pension)
  • Illness Benefit

Working Family Payment

This payment is a weekly tax-free payment for employees with children.

It supports people who are on a low income, and you must have at least one child under 18 who normally lives with you or who you support financially.

Your average weekly family income must be under a certain amount for your family size.

The payment you get is 60% of the difference between your average weekly family income and the WFP income limit for your family size.

One-Parent Family Payment

This is a payment for men and women under 66 who are bringing children up without the support of a partner.

To qualify for a One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) you must:

  • be under 66 (at 66 you become eligible for a State pension)
  • be the parent, step-parent, adoptive parent or legal guardian of a relevant child (this means a child under the relevant age limit – see below)
  • be the main carer of at least one relevant child. The child must live with you. OFP is not payable if the parents have joint equal custody of a child or children.
  • satisfy a means test
  • be habitually resident (certain people, in particular EU nationals who are considered migrant workers, are exempt from the habitual residence condition)
  • not be living with a spouse, civil partner or cohabiting

Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance

The Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance (BTSCFA) helps with the cost of uniforms and footwear for children going to school.

The scheme is open for applications from 21 June 2021 to 30 September 2021.

It is paid automatically to many families in the week beginning 12 July 2021.

You may qualify for the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance if you are:

  • getting a social welfare payment (including Working Family Payment, Back to Work Family Dividend and Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment) or a Health Service Executive payment, or
  • taking part in an approved employment scheme (back to work scheme) or
  • taking part in a recognised education or training course, or
  • getting a Daily Expenses Allowance (formerly called Direct Provision Allowance) for a child in education (or for yourself if you are 18–22 and returning to full-time second-level education), or
  • involved in an Area Partnership Scheme, or
  • attending a FET (formerly Fás) or Fáilte Ireland training course

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