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More needs to be done to improve the affordability & quality of childcare - Sinn Féin

13 October, 2016

Sinn Féin’s Spokesperson on Children & Youth Affairs Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD and spokesperson on Childcare Kathleen Funchion TD have stated that a lot more needs to be done to improve the affordability and quality of childcare.

Speaking on Minister Zappone’s proposals Deputy Ó Laoghaire said;

“In run up to budget, much of the speculation centred on the issue of Childcare.

“Minister Zappone’s intervention, while welcome, is clearly inadequate when you consider the amount of investment required. 

“The Minister has provided €35.5 million in an attempt to tackle affordability within the childcare sector. In reality, those already struggling with the cost of Childcare will continue to struggle following the introduction of these measures.

“Sinn Féin would have provided an overall package that focused on many areas within the childcare sector. We allocated €187 million to this area, as a first step.

“Our proposal would have provided an average relief of €96 per child per week, whereas many will only receive €80 over the course of a month under the Minister’s new measures 

“There are notable gaps in this plan. It is clear that manny families will not see the benefit and the whole issue of childminders needs to be examined further, as so many remain unregulated. Childminders need to be assisted in registering and the childminder advisory service must be restored.”

Deputy Kathleen Funchion continued;

“The Minister has failed entirely to deal with quality or workplace standards, with childcare workers seemingly an afterthought. 

“Childcare workers continue to be underpaid, and incredibly, have to claim social welfare over the summer months to make ends meet.

“The government has done nothing for these workers, who can only be commended for the time and effort they give in nurturing children.  

“Childcare professionals deserve a fair deal, and our proposals would have gone a long way in achieving this aim.

“Sinn Féin would have provided significant increases for the Learner fund, supporting those who wish to progress their career in childcare and attain academic qualifications.

“We also proposed an increase in the ECCE scheme to 43 weeks which would have bridged some of the gap of the summer months spent on jobseekers benefit.

“We would have increased both the higher and lower rates of capitation grants to pre-schools and crèches, which would support better pay.”

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