Significant State investment in childcare and early education will be required to prevent a post-Covid crisis in the sector, according to Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore.

Deputy Whitmore, who is the party’s spokesperson for Children, was responding to concerns that childcare providers will face new challenges when restrictions are relaxed and the economy opens up again.

She said:

“Many of the societal changes we have seen over the past year will continue to be the norm when the pandemic is behind us. More parents are likely to continue the hybrid working arrangements that will see them commuting less and staying at home more. This extra flexibility will allow them to balance their jobs with caring for their children and could lead to decreased demand for places in childcare facilities.

“This could result in the closure of many businesses which are already struggling to keep their doors open and are completely dependent on the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme.

“Many childcare providers will feel they have no option but to increase fees in response to decreased demand, which will place a further financial burden on parents.

“The Government must meet this change with significant investment in the childcare sector that sets us on a path to public provision of early years care. It has effectively started this process with the introduction of Covid-19 measures such as the EWSS and needs to build on the progress made.

“The importance of the childcare and early education sector was recognised and greatly appreciated during the pandemic. It is a fundamental cog in keeping our economy moving. However, lack of State investment over the years means that it is not capable of meeting the post-Covid challenges without urgent Government intervention.”

March 11, 2021

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