MAIREAD TÓIBÍN: Long Term Reform of Childcare Sector Required
Aontú Candidate for the Dublin Bay South Bye-Election, Mairead Tóibín, has highlighted the need for long term reform of the childcare sector and for Ireland to stop being an outlier in Europe in not investing in it’s childcare sector.
“By European standards, Ireland is one of the lowest investors in childcare – only investing 0.1% of GDP. This is a sector that is crucial to the development of our younger generations, but we neglect to fully invest or resource their development. Prior to Covid-19, I joined tens of thousands of workers and parents in the streets to protest the paltry pay and conditions in the sector arising from chronic underinvestment. The advent of Covid-19 only served to worsen the crisis in the sector. A research survey from the Federation of Early Childhood Providers showed the extent of the damage done by government abandonment of the sector throughout the first few months of the pandemic: ‘Only 22% of providers surveyed found the DCYA in any way helpful. 91% of childcare facilities have said that government actions during the pandemic were wholly inadequate. 79% said they feared for the future survival of their business. 87% said they need significant government supports and funding to keep their doors open to parents and children. 78% of childcare providers would rather the Department of Education be put in charge of the sector than the Minister for Children and DCYA continue.’ In the Childcare sector’s hour of need, the government not only were found wanting but were found to have abandoned the sector.”
“Aontú was the only political party to raise in the Dáil the closure of over 180 childcare providers in the first wave of the pandemic as a result of the government's abandonment of the sector. The government opted out of ECCE contracts with providers, which was their main source of income, and suspended AIM funding to better integrate children with disabilities into mainstream pre-school settings. The consequences of the these policies are still being felt today, with many providers struggling to cover the tens of thousands in losses incurred during the pandemic, and with providers and parents not wanting the Department of Children & Youth Affairs to have anything to do with the Childcare sector. Aontú, from its inception, has pushed for fair resourcing and reform of the sector to the benefit of parents, teachers, providers and children alike.”