“High childcare costs place an unacceptable burden on already stretched families. The government needs to step up to its responsibility in supporting parents and ensure that sufficient funding is provided for parents to enable them choice in how they raise and mind their children.”

Social Democrats’ Spokesperson on Children, Councillor Jennifer Whitmore has said today’s ESRI-Pobal research findings that women are being shut out of the workplace by the high cost of childcare shows the need for a complete re-think of how we deliver childcare and the role the State provides in supporting parents.

The Wicklow Councillor said:

“The fundamental problem with childcare in Ireland is that there is chronic underinvestment. Ireland currently invests just 0.5 per cent of GDP in childcare for under 6s. The OECD average is 0.7 per cent, while the Unicef target is 1 per cent. We are nowhere near the 1.8% of GDP spent in Iceland, the 1.6% in Sweden, or 1.4% invested by the Danish.

“Until that underinvestment is resolved, we will continue to see families and children adversely impacted. The knock-on impacts are many and the ERSI study quantifies those for parents, particularly mothers, who would like to re-join the workforce.

“High childcare costs place an unacceptable burden on already stretched families. The government needs to step up to its responsibility in supporting parents and ensure that sufficient funding is provided for parents to enable them choice in how they raise and mind their children.”

Councillor Whitmore added:

“I know mothers who return to work in the full knowledge that, for the first year or two, the wages they earn will only pay for childcare costs. They essentially work for little or no return so that they will be able keep their job and realise some net earnings once their children start school. Or, on the other hand, mothers decide that they cannot afford to work and so stay at home.  When parents tell you that they ‘cannot afford to work’ you know the system is flawed.

“Each family is different, and each child is different and so it follows that the childcare needs of each family is different. Families want choice. There needs to be a complete re-think of how we deliver childcare in this country and the role that the State provides in supporting parents.”

ENDS

4 September 2018