Over 80 per cent of private nurseries and kindergartens applied to participate in the government scheme that will fund children’s tuition fees for eligible families, the deputy ministry of welfare said on Thursday.

In its announcement, the deputy ministry noted that there is increased interest from providers to participate in the scheme, saying that as of August 24, a total of 289 nurseries and kindergartens had submitted online applications.

Most applications, 133, were received in Nicosia, 58 in Limassol, 57 in Larnaca, 25 in Paphos and 16 in Famagusta.

This is out of 349 registered private nurseries and kindergartens in the government-controlled areas.

The statement was made on Thursday, the deadline for nurseries to register to participate.

The newly approved scheme allocates €16 million per year to fund up to 80 per cent of the tuition fees for children up to four years old attending private and community nurseries and kindergartens, with a maximum amount ranging from €100 to €350 per child per month. It also provides for a special increased subsidy for children up to two years old, as well as for single-parent and large families.

It aims, inter alia, to support families and narrow the gender employment gap.

Up to 16,000 children who have been approved for child benefit may benefit from the allowance, based on criteria of family income, family composition, age of the child and hours of schooling, Anthousi said.

The plan also takes into account the number of hours the children stay, with an additional subsidy of €50 per month for those who also attend in the afternoon (after 3.30 pm).

Information letters will be sent out in the next few days to families eligible for the scheme.

The allowance will be paid directly to the providers and not to the families, Anthousi said, adding that it was agreed that participating providers will keep tuition fees stable and not make any increases.

The plan covers the period 2022-2025, is co-financed by the European Social Fund under the Thalia programme, and national resources.