People living in Inishowen have been urged to apply for a Medical Card or GP Visit card.

Speaking to Donegal Now, Michelle McKenna who is standing in Inishowen’s Buncrana Electoral Area for Fine Gael on May 24, said receipt of the Cards could further qualify holders for Community Childcare Subvention (CCS).

Ms McKenna said: “Because I am involved in childcare, I meet a lot of parents who are unaware they are eligible for a Medical Card or a GP Visit Card. It does not seem to be widely known that Budget 2018 provided for a 10 percent increase across all GP Visit Card thresholds as of April 1, 2019.

“People in a variety of jobs are under the misapprehension they might not qualify for the Cards because they mistakenly believe they earn over the permitted income threshold.

“I am continually advising people to apply for a Medical Card or a GP Visit Card and many of them have been successful. Qualification for a Medical Card is assessed on a person’s income after mortgage payments, childcare costs and travel-to-work costs have been deducted and I would be happy to help parents with their applications.

“Most working people are entitled to a Medical Card, which covers the cost of GP consultations and prescriptions, or, if not, a GP Visit Card, which covers the cost of GP consultations,” said Ms McKenna.

The Buncrana-based LGE candidate added that parents in receipt of a Medical Card or GP Visitor Card are further entitled to get on the Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) Programme, if they have children in  Private or Community childcare.

The CCS Programme supports parents to avail of reduced childcare costs at participating Community and Private childcare services.

The Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) pays for a portion of the childcare costs for eligible children and the parent pays the remainder.

The childcare service provider applies for CCS to the DCYA on behalf of the parent.

According to Michelle McKenna, CCS is available for 50 weeks of the year. She said: “The CCS programme covers the academic year, starting in September and finishing in August. If a parent has a Medical Card, is in receipt of any social welfare payment, including Working Family Payment (WFP) and has at least one child living with them or is financially supporting at least one child, that parent might be entitled to get their childcare (either full day care or after school care) costs paid. Community and private childcare providers are eligible, as long as they have been registered with Tusla.

“€145 per child per week is the full qualification CCS payment, which can be awarded. In Inishowen, that would almost fully cover the cost of childcare. CCS is designed to encourage more parents into the work place, as the cost of childcare can sometimes be an obstacle to that move. With the Government widening schemes such as CCS, it is important everyone knows what they are entitled to, so we will see more working parents, as it will be worthwhile to work again. More details can be found at: https://www.dcya.gov.ie/docs/EN/Community-Childcare-Subvention-(CCS)-Programme/2168.htm.

“Depending on what CCS band they are on, a parent they might get €70  per child per week off their childcare costs. Some people are getting €25 per child per week off. With a GP Visit Card, a parent might get €17 per child per week off their childcare costs. Everyone is entitled to €4 per child per day off, that is the universal amount. I think it is important people apply for a Medical Card or GP Visit Card, which might then entitle them to CCS,” said Ms McKenna.

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