Fine Gael’s childcare policies are failing parents – Matt Carthy MEP
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has criticised the Fine Gael government for sleepwalking into a capacity crisis for childcare provision for babies and toddlers.
The Midlands North West MEP said:
“On top of the exorbitant cost of childcare in this state we now face a critical shortage of crèche places for under-threes. The Fine Gael government has sleepwalked into this mess despite being warned by officials several years ago of this precise problem developing.
“This government’s childcare policy has failed parents, and particularly women who want to re-enter the workforce following a period of maternity leave. It has resulted in Ireland having the highest childcare costs in the EU as well the second-worst rate of workplace participation for women in the EU.
"We also have the highest rate of single-parent families in the EU, 86 per cent of which are headed by women, who bear an especially tough burden when it comes to childcare costs.
"Paying childcare costs is now like paying a second mortgage for many families. There is also a close relationship between the astronomical cost of childcare and child poverty and lone-parent family poverty. Almost one in five children are now living under the poverty line.
“Back in 2016, Early Childhood Ireland warned the government that this capacity crisis for under-threes would develop as a consequence of the nature of the government’s Early Childhood Care and Education scheme.
"As usual, Fine Gael did nothing and allowed this to develop into a major problem with no intervention whatsoever. And, as usual, Fianna Fáil sat back and watched.
“This means that we now we have babies and toddlers being turned away from childcare centres, which have been incentivised by government policy to cater only for pre-school age children.
"Parents, particularly women, are being forced to postpone going back to work because they simply cannot find a place for their child in a crèche.
“These conditions are intolerable. Government policy is condemning women and men who may want to work to stay at home, or to work in casual, precarious jobs. It is condemning a generation of children and lone-parent families to biting poverty.
“The failure by the government to address these issues, and the chronic underinvestment in childcare services over many years, show that Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil don’t care about women, children or families.
“Sinn Féin will fight for better, affordable childcare provision; for quality jobs and housing; and for an end to the shame of child poverty."