Calling on the Government and Minister for Children to outline clearly the long-term plans to support the childcare sector and put children, not the system, first, Social Democrats spokesperson for children, Jennifer Whitmore TD said:
“The continuing Government uncertainty on the funding package to support the childcare sector for the period beyond the end of August is creating havoc for providers, for employees and for families.
“The uncertainty, combined with Government kite flying on capping the fees, is putting unnecessary stress on providers and parents, and is jeopardising return-to-work plans families are trying to make. This uncertainty is increasing the worry of hard-pressed families that the fees in the sector may increase in September, and as a SIPTU report found today, leading to a third of employees saying that they intend to leave the sector within a year.
“Government talk of capping fees is putting the cart before the horse. There needs to be significant investment in the sector, in parallel with any proposed fee capping, to ensure the continued provision of high-quality care for children and to ensure a sustainable childcare sector, with proper payment and working conditions for childcare workers.
“Government policy on childcare has not done what it should have set out to do and that is, putting children front and centre of childcare provision in this country. Instead, we’re fitting children into a system rather than the system fitting around the child.
“We know that families want a flexible, tailored approach to their childcare needs, one which is not cost-prohibitive and they want the high standard of early years education they expect for their child. Each child is different, and each family has different childcare needs, something yet to be acknowledged in this country. A ‘one size fits all’ approach will not work, and neither will a piecemeal approach.
“Without providing clarity and direction urgently, the challenges for the sector and for families will just be compounded, with serious impacts on the capacity of people to return to work and rebuild the economy. “
20 July 2020