Childcare costs in Ireland are far above the EU average, with Irish families spending 20% of their incomes on full-time crèche facilities compared with 12% of income for families in the rest of Europe. Childcare costs are so high that it is now out of reach for many low income families.
Such community-based childcare as exists is now under threat by the central government’s new Community Childcare Subvention Scheme. This ill-conceived tiered income-related scheme is creating divisions between children from families who receive social welfare payments and those who earn low wages. It is not the right way to fund childcare, and as a result many crèches serving the community’s most vulnerable families have had their funding cut and still others are being forced to close down. Many low income parents now face fees that have increased or even doubled. Central government has also completely failed to address the disgracefully low pay of childcare workers in the community sector.
Sinn Féin believes that high quality childcare is an essential public service, and that equal access to childcare is a right – linked to the exercise of other fundamental rights of all: the right to education, the right to work, and the right to an adequate standard of living.
Sinn Féin supports:
State-led provision of comprehensive childcare made available to all who need it equally as of right, and funded by general direct and progressive taxation.
Introduction of universal early childhood education and care including universal pre-school for 3 to 5s, and an afterschool childcare system.
· the scrapping of the fundamentally flawed Community Childcare Subvention Scheme, and will continue to fight to keep local community crèches open.
· The provision or restoration of core funding to all local community-based crèches, to ensure equal access for all who need it to good quality childcare.
· A requirement on developers to construct childcare facilities in all new housing developments and transfer these to the ownership of the local authority upon completion.
· The removal of all childcare-related barriers to parents accessing VTOS and Back to Education Schemes, such as non-funding of childcare during holiday periods.
Sinn Féin believes that education is a basic and fundamental human right. Education should be free universally available as of right and assist everyone without exception to develop her or his full potential. Instead of guaranteeing everyone equal access to the highest standard of education, current Government policy has entrenched… Read more
Submission to the Oireachtas Committee on Child Protection August 2006 Foreword The responsibility of the state to protect children and the development of policy and legal reform in the area of child protection is of fundamental importance and as such it should be informed by open and inclusive decision-making. A… Read more