Claims by Early Childcare Providers that they are being exploited to ‘meet political objectives’ has today (29th Jan) been described as a sad indictment of the ‘respect for those who provide crucial early years care for children throughout Ireland.”

Aontú Leader Deputy Peadar Toíbín made his comments after his party was contacted by pre-school providers, claiming they are “one straw away from breaking the camel’s back and many are being forced out of business.” The childcarers didn’t even merit a mention on the RTÉ Leaders’ Debate.

The Early Years Alliance is an umbrella group representing Early years staff, providers and parents who will be holding a national protest at Leinster House on 5th February.

Deputy Tóibín stated:

“This protest is to highlight the impending crisis in Irish childcare provision and to demand a sustainable solution to this growing problem. These professionals say they will go to the wall, close up their business and where will that leave early childhood care in this country?

“Several Early childcare providers have contacted Aontú with real and genuine concerns for the ongoing sustainability of their sector

“The situation for them is dire with some providers being forced to subsidise the real cost of  a top quality service through low wages for staff and high fees for parents; these are educators who provide a top class service which is becoming more and more unsustainable.

“Among their concerns is the low level of subsidies given to childcare providers in the form of the ECCE grant, which amounts to just €4.60 per child per hour, or €64.50 for an entire week. This combined with the recent hikes in public liability insurance means that providers are coming under severe financial pressure as a result.

“Worryingly, it appears that childcare workers are taking the brunt of underinvestment in the childcare sector in the form of low wages: the average wage in the sector is €11.46 per hour, while 61% of all workers in the sector earn less than the living wage of €12.30 per hour. The situation has deteriorated so badly that 91% of workers will leave the sector in five years in the absence of change, while staff turnover rates per annum are unsustainable at 23%.

“Aontú is committed, as part of our manifesto, to ensuring that all employees, including childcare workers, receive a Living Wage.  Aontú in government will ensure that childcare providers are properly funded for the valuable work that they perform on behalf of society, so that high standards in the sector may be maintained and not be allowed to suffer through neglect, financial or otherwise.”