Sinn Féin proposals would half Childcare bills for Thousands of Families – Ó Laoghaire
Sinn Féin launched the childcare section of their alternative budget for 2017 in Dublin this morning. Among other measures, a €111 million fund would subsidise the cost of childcare for children aged 6 months to 3 years, by an average of €4994 a year or €96 a week.
It would also see the ECCE scheme reduced from 38 weeks to 43 weeks, helping reduce the burden on childcare professionals during the summer months.
Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD, party spokesperson for Children and Youth Affairs, said that the measures proposed would significant alleviate some of the strain experienced by both families and workers.
The Cork South Central TD said:
“Outlined within our document are many proposals that we feel could enhance the childcare sector across the board.
“The issues that have been trundling on within the childcare sector for quite some time now are ever present today, and remain unaddressed by this government or the one previous to it.
“We acknowledge that the childcare sector has been chronically underfunded for many years and that is why we have allocated monies amount to roughly €250 million, a significant investment.
“Childcare in cities like Dublin and Cork can cost €800-1000 a month, equivalent to rent or a second mortgage for many.
“According to figures from the OECD, in March 2015, Ireland has the most expensive childcare in Europe. Across the EU, childcare costs about 12% of a family’s income, in Ireland it is 35%. This is substantially down to a lack of subsidisation and a lack of investment by the Government.
“Frankly, it’s just not good enough. It is unfair to both the children and the parents availing of childcare services.
“We need to ease the burden they are carrying.
“Our proposals would halve bills for thousands of parents of children aged 6 months to 3 years. We believe this is a very significant first step in a longer move towards a broadly publicly subsided system, which sees childcare as a public good, universally available to all families.
“We also recognise the need to expand the ECCE scheme, from 38 weeks to 43, to the benefit of children, families, and childcare professionals alike. Childcare professionals are extremely committed and hardworking but need to have their pay, conditions and career progression improved.
“That is why we are opening up the learner fund to level 7 and 8 courses, and extending the higher and lower capitation grant.
“Quality affordable childcare, with a well-paid professional workforce is both socially and economically essential, and that is the destination we are working towards.”