The long-awaited cut to fees will be welcomed by hard-pressed families facing spiralling heating bills this winter.
It comes as a result of ministers agreeing to cut fees by 25pc as part of Budget 2023 from significant increases in taxpayer funding of childcare.
Parents will gain from an average reduction of 25pc to their fees from January 2 with the Universal Subsidy being increased from 50c an hour by 90c to €1.40 per hour for a maximum of 45 hours a week.
“It’s not promises,” Minister O’Gorman said. “It’s real delivery, the biggest cut in childcare fees in the history of the State. I’ve secured the largest increase in one-year investment in childcare in the history of the State.
Nearly 90pc of the country’s childcare providers have signed up for the core funding
“That subsidy will come off everyone’s bills. Now some people’s bills are higher and lower. So what we’re saying is it will be an average (cut) across the country (of) 25pc.”
Families with children who are over six months but less than 15 years of age and registered with Tusla, as well as being in contact with the Department of Children, are eligible for the reduction.
“We’ve also been able to increase the sustainability of providers, the childcare providers themselves through core funding (of) €259m this year,” Mr O’Gorman said.
He added that small ECCE-only (Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme) services will now get funding of €27m, almost double the previous €14m.
Nearly 90pc of the country’s childcare providers have signed up for the core funding. However, last month 500 ECCE childcare providers shut for a day to protest the new funding model which they say is unfair and has led to small providers losing higher capitation and support payments.
Separately, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has promised to reduce paediatric waiting lists over the next two years, with a new unit also being set up in his department to focus on reducing child poverty and improving well-being.