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Crowe describes axing of VTOS childcare scheme as appalling

5 September, 2003

Sinn Féin TD and Spokesperson on Education Seán Crowe has said that he is shocked and appalled at the Government's decision to remove childcare support from participants on the Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme. Describing the cuts as 'an assault on the weakest and most vulnerable sections of society' he has called on Education Minister Dempsey to reverse his decision immediately. He said 'Once again we see the most disadvantaged sections of society being stripped of essential services so this governments disastrous budget can come in on target. It's short sighted and defies logic and will causes huge difficulties for 1,338 parents, forcing many of them off VTOS run courses concerns."

Deputy Crowe said:

"The Department of Education has contacted VTOS Centres and participants this week to inform them that, effective immediately, funds will no longer be made available for childcare support for those availing of their courses. Where will this decision leave the 1,338 parents and 1,672 children affected by this ultimatum?

"These funds were provided by the Department of Education and Science to VECs for childcare support to encourage parents to take part in Youthreach, Senior Traveller Training Centre programmes for early school leavers and the Vocational Training Opportunity Schemes for the unemployed

"This money - €63.50 benefit per week per child - allowed many VTOS participants to participate in these courses and help them back into the workforce. With crèches and childminders charging over €800 per month in Dublin, many of these students will be forced to withdraw from their courses.

"Yet again we see essential services being withdrawn from the most disadvantaged sections of society so that this governments disastrous budget can come in on target. It's short sighted and defies logic and I call on the Minister for Education to reverse the decision immediately. This new reality means that less pupils will be taking up educational courses and more and more families will be caught up in an endless cycle of poverty.

"Furthermore, the timing of the decision completely beggars belief. At this late stage, in many cases one week before new courses begin, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for parents to make alternative childcare arrangements."ENDS

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