Calling out the Government for not grasping the opportunity in Budget 2021 to move to a public model of childcare provision, Jennifer Whitmore TD, Social Democrats spokesperson for children said:

“Our childcare system fell apart on its first major test in the early stages of Covid-19. The privatised, under-resourced model which successive governments have created was never fit for purpose. For most families with children, it was the equivalent of another mortgage and a huge part of the unsustainable cost of living.  The systemic weaknesses were shown up in the pandemic, including very poor wages, lack of sick pay, poor progression routes and poor profitability for the providers. It became clearer that it is a broken system that doesn’t work for children, for parents or for early educators.

“All of us relied on our childcare system to restart the economy, to enable people to get back to work. The government put band-aids on it and cobbled together something that got barely got us through temporarily. But all the crucial issues of affordability and proper pay were left untouched.

“The government badly failed in Budget 2021 to seize the opportunity to re-imagine our childcare system. This was a once in a generation opportunity the government should have taken to rebuild a system that worked for children, for families, for employers and for the workers in the childcare system.

“Budget 2021 was the opportunity to move to a publicly funded, high quality childcare system – as much of Europe already has in place. The failure of the Government to grasp the opportunity means that our chance of having proper public services once the pandemic is past is rapidly diminishing. Our sacrifices throughout this year must count for something. We deserve better. Our children deserve better.

“If the children of today are going to be paying back the borrowing needed to see us through Covid-19, the least we can do is to ensure that they benefit now from the debt we will be asking them to pay back in the future.”

14th October 2020

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