Tackling the Childcare Crisis
We need safe, quality and affordable childcare. We need childcare workers that are trained to the highest standard and a system that is registered and regularly monitored. We need childcare that is affordable.
The issues of affordability and access to high quality childcare need to be tackled immediately. The average cost of childcare stands at €167 per week with costs as high as €268 per week in Dublin.
We also need to address the insecurity and low pay for workers across the childcare sector. These are the people entrusted with the care of our children, our most valuable asset. They must be supported, paid a decent wage and encouraged to update their skills and knowledge.
The ECCE free pre-school year is a good starting point on the road to universal childcare provision. But it is not perfect. It contributes to the part- time, short-term nature of contracts available to workers in the sector. Many children with disabilities are excluded from availing of the pre- school year in full due to the lack of SNA supports. So the scheme, the capitation rate levels and sessional structure should be improved before it is duplicated for a second year.
Tax credits aren’t the magic wand. Their value could be quickly eroded by increased fees, such is the scale of legitimate pressure on pay across the sector. Tax breaks will also do nothing to further the quality agenda in childcare delivery.
Sinn Féin is currently engaging with stakeholders in the sector and will shortly publish a comprehensive and lasting solution to the childcare crisis.
Sinn Féin Would:
- Engage with parents and childcare providers to develop top quality childcare.
- Ensure an increase in investment in state- funded childcare.
- Examine and amend the ECCE free pre-school year to ensure it is providing decent terms and conditions to its providers and is meeting the needs of all children and parents.