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Government must invest in quality, accessible and affordable child care - McLellan

20 February, 2014

Deputy Sandra McLellan, Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Arts, Heritage, Sport & Tourism has called on the government to invest in quality, accessible and affordable child care.

Speaking today during a debate on childcare at the Dáil Committee on Health and Children, Deputy McLellan said:

“Consecutive governments have failed to address childcare provision. This State still has one of the lowest rates of childcare provision in the EU. The government spends 0.4% of GDP on childcare, well below the international recommendation of 1%. As a consequence, this state has the second most expensive childcare in the OECD.

“According to the report presented today to the Dáil committee by the Donegal County Childcare Committee, childcare costs almost 45% of the average disposable income of a double-income family. It has become the ‘second mortgage’. Many families on lower incomes either cannot get childcare at all, or must pay a disproportionate amount of their income on massive weekly childcare bills.

“The lack of quality, affordable childcare prevents parents, particularly women, from taking up employment or further education.

“Research shows tax breaks are not the answer. The solution is to invest in childcare. There is an urgent need to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy for childcare provision.

“Our aim must be to establish a universal provision of early childhood care and education based on the best international models. This could and should be free at the point of delivery. The one year free childcare must be expanded. It has proven to be hugely successful. It makes social and economic sense. Investing in childcare is investing in our economic future.

“We believe this Government must make a commitment to increase investment in childcare provision for the sake of our children, their parents and for the wider economy.”

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