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Childcare Sector: Providers Want Sustainability, Parents Want Affordability, Workers Want Security - Tóibín

Speaking in the Dáil on the Childcare Motion, Aontú Leader & Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín has

said the Childcare Sector is at breaking point, and that government supports for the sector need be

radically increased.

 

 

An Teachta Tóibín: “Ireland is quite simply an outlier in terms of how little the state funds on

childcare. UNICEF recommends at the very least 1% of GDP is invested in childcare. The OECD

average is 0.7%. The optimal amount of investment is 2% of GDP. Ireland invests a mere 0.3% of

GDP in childcare. We cannot  provide high-quality, affordable childcare when we are not prepared to

fund it.”

 

“I spoke to many parents and providers, and the crisis in the sector can be boiled down to

this: Providers want sustainability, parents want affordability. Providers do not want to be

charging parents additional fees to make up for inadequate government supports. Yet they have no

other option to sustain the sector. There is a huge turnover of staff in the sector which is a degree led

sector, who simply cannot survive on the low wages in the sector. You can tell how a Government

values a sector by how much it pays people. In the care of children, minimum wage is the industry

standard. the Government has a minimum wage value on the staff working in Childcare.” 

 

“The Wage Subsidy during Covid-19 was in fact the most stability childcare workers have had in

years. The low level of government funding means that any sustainable wages in the sector fall upon

parents to pay. Meanwhile, the suspension of income during the pandemic and the inadequacy of

government supports has put many providers out of business. In the first year of the pandemic, 193

childcare providers were forced to shut their doors – adding further pressure to an already highly-

pressurised sector. Aontú was the party that brough this crisis to the attention to the Dail. We put as

much pressure on the Gov at the time to protect a sector that was in danger of complete collapse.”

 

 

“It remains unknown how many have shut in 2021. In the words of one childcare provider, it will

take decades for the childcare sector to recover to its pre-Covid state. All of this government induced

mess has led to a sector that is broken and incapable of meeting the needs of parents or children.

Montessoris which focus on pre-school education are getting calls from parents asking will they take

their child of 1 and a half, or two years old in – parents have become that desperate. Cost is dictating

the Childs early years development. I know of one parent who is self-employed was forced to bring

her new-born child into work with her because childcare is so unaffordable. Another parent who

works in City Centre pays over a €1,000 per month for her child’s childcare in Sword. Parents of

children with additional needs are faced with even worse prospects.

 

 

“What is in place? Well, the Universal Childcare Subsidy is available at 50c an hour up to 45 hours a

week for children aged 6 months and older. This works out at a maximum of €22.50 per week or €90

per month. How does this even begin to help? The lowest available rate for part time childcare is

€109 per week, rising to over €250 for children in full time childcare.”

 

 

“ECCE Capitation rates need to be increased. AIM funding needs to be increased. The Universal

Childcare Subsidy is wholly inadequate. Our % of GDP investment is out of sync with the rest of the

developed world. Budget 2022 needs to include a radical increase in funding for a suffering sector. If

it doesn’t, we will once again see providers, workers and parents on the streets in protest. Its not

rocket science, it’s a matter of priority. The government has shown through their lack of investment

that the children, early years educators, the childcare professionals and struggling parents are not

priorities.  The government have created a private contractor model. Aontú seeks an increase in

funding to be given to providers. But we are also seeking a tax break for parents so that they can

exercise a choice in paying providers or also taking time out from work and providing child care

themselves.” Concluded Tóibín.

By Aontú Press | 6 October, 2021



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