The government has announced that free childcare centres will be available from April. Practically all childcare centres in Malta and Gozo have signed up to the new government scheme.

The initiative has been widened in scope so that parents who are in education, as well as those in employment, will be able to make use of this service.

Parents will be entitled to free childcare services based on the number of hours they work.. An additional hour per day and the equivalent of 10% of the entitlement will be added to the total to allow for commuting.

Students studying on a part-time basis will be entitled to 20 hours while those studying full-time will benefit from 40 hours.

Minister for Education and Employment, Evarist Bartolo, said that the proposal had already proved a success with childcare centre providers prepared to invest in facilities and expand. The Minister said that the educational aspect of the initiative would be given priority, so that children enjoyed a stimulating educational experience.

Minister for Finance Prof. Edward Scicluna said that this scheme which provides free childcare must be seen as an investment (valued at €3.8 million in the 2014 budget) which seeks to utilise a previously untapped resource – female employment.

Prof. Scicluna added that this initiative represents one of the Government’s major economic reforms, and said that through it, the Government is both increasing the female participation in the labour force, and also strengthening the country’s skills as the initiative is also available to those parents seeking to further their education.

The list of childcare centres taking part in this scheme, as well as an application form, can be found online on: www.education.gov.mt/childcare

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