Significant investment in childcare urgently needed - Sandra McLellan TD
Sinn Féin Childcare spokesperson Sandra McLellan has said the Interdepartmental Working Group Report on Childcare is well intentioned but lacks detail.
Deputy McLellan said significant investment is needed as a matter of urgency if the Minister intends to provide sustainable, quality childcare for parents and children in this state.
“The ‘Future Investment in Childcare in Ireland' report sets out a proposed framework for early years policy in this state.
“Recommendations around parental leave, extending the Free Pre-School Year and reforming and extending the existing schemes are to be welcomed.
“We have been calling on the Minister to assure a link in funding with quality over the past number of months both at committee and in the Dáil chamber. So we are pleased to see an emphasis on this and a recommendation of a ‘quality audit’ of services. The acknowledgement of the need for regulation of childminders is positive.
“However, the report is scarce on detail when it comes to the when and how of the implementation of proposed measures.
“Childcare workers’ conditions and pay are not sufficiently addressed. The sector employs approximately 25,000 women. Average pay is approximately €10 per hour. Workers must often carry out a significant number of hours in preparation and administration that are unpaid.
“The service provider also works many hours which are not costed. This expectation of free labour is not acceptable and causes burn out. There is no job security or paid leave and most have to sign onto the dole in the summer months. Most services are unable to pay staff for anything other than ‘core hours’. With such low wages, it is difficult for services to recruit and retain well-qualified staff.
“In order for a quality childcare system to work, the pay and conditions of child care workers must also be considered.
“The position of paternity leave remains unclear and must be addressed.
“Public investment in Ireland’s early years services is less than 0.2% GDP. The OECD average is 0.8% GDP.
“What we need to see now is a clear commitment to an increase in funding to the sector. Ultimately, that is what things boil down to. Significant investment is needed as a matter of urgency if the Minister intends to provide sustainable, quality childcare for parents and children in this state.”