Case study: Help with school costs for a family

Mary is a single parent with 3 children aged 14, 10 and 7. Each year she finds that the cost of uniforms and school books for her children is a major expense. She wants to know if she is entitled to the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance and if there are any other grants to help with the cost of going to school. She gets no maintenance from her ex-partner for herself or the children. She gets the One-Parent Family Payment and gets €90 a week from a part-time job. She also has a medical card.

As she is on a social welfare payment she is entitled to the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance provided that her income is below a certain level. Mary’s weekly income is made up of her One-Parent Family Payment of €282.40 and her earnings of €90, which comes to a total of €372.40. The Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance weekly income limit for a single parent with 3 children is €477.70 in 2017. So Mary qualifies for a payment for each of the children. From June 2017 she will get €200 for her eldest child and €100 for each of the younger children which comes to a total of €400.

She may also be entitled to a payment to help with the cost of school books. She should ask the principals of the children’s schools about this.

Next year her eldest child will be doing the Junior Cert exam. As Mary has a medical card she will not have to pay the exam fee.

Page edited: 7 June 2017