Social Democrats Spokesperson for Children, Deputy Jennifer Whitmore has today welcomed the announcement by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs of a funding package of €75m to the childcare sector to help facilities reopen at the end of the month. Whitmore welcomes the inclusion of a once-off grant totalling €375,000 to be provided for childminders. The grant of €500 per childminder is available to those 750 childminders registered with Tusla and will be used to assist them with the costs of reopening.
Deputy Whitmore said:
“Childminders have not been included in childcare policy throughout COVID19 which makes today a real turning point in the recognition of their role in the provision of childcare across the country.
“A huge number of families avail of childminders as their preferred option of childcare, yet childcare policy in this country has been predominantly focused on the private sector provision of childcare.
“No doubt this funding will be very useful in assisting childminders to adapt their premises to the health and safety protocols for when they reopen. However, the announcement today only gives providers two weeks before the opening date of June 29th.
“Furthermore, I welcome the once-off capital grant of €14.2m and a reopening grant of €18m to the sector enabling childcare facilities open in line with health and safety guidelines. I have been calling on the Minister for Children to look at expanding an existing Sustainability Fund set up to help community childcare facilities struggling with certain costs.
“The continuation of the wage subsidy scheme until the end of the month is additional good news for childcare staff and is recognition of the essential role childcare workers play. Significantly, grants are contingent on the providers not increasing fees for parents.
“However, there remains a sustainability crisis looming in terms of affordability for parents and persistently low wages in the sector. COVID19 has affected the earning capacity of many parents while some childcare workers will not return due to continuing low wages. This could present a real sustainability issue for the sector which any new funding model should be addressing now rather than later.
“The long-term goal of the Social Democrats is for a national childcare service. The Party recently supported SIPTU’s call for such a service. Moves carried out by the Department today show that much more will be required to deliver this. However, the recognition of childminders and childcare workers as well as parents in the new funding model is a step in the right direction” concluded Whitmore.
10th June 2020