– New Government has failed to take its first opportunity to safeguard the future of the childcare sector according to Early Childhood Ireland –
Early Childhood Ireland, the leading organisation in the early years sector, has today (13.10.20) criticised the Government’s failure to provide more long-term investment to address chronic underfunding of a critically vulnerable sector.
In a pre-Budget submission Early Childhood Ireland, which supports 3,800 childcare members providers nationwide and, in turn, over 100,000 children and their families, had called for a 0.5% increase in Exchequer spending on childcare by 2023.
Chief Executive Teresa Heeney stated that this budget demonstrates a lack of both urgency and ambition for childcare providers, parents and children alike.
Commenting on today’s Budget announcement (13.10.2020), Ms Heeney said: “It had been well flagged that this would be the Covid-19 and Brexit budget and we welcome the continued Covid-19 supports for childcare settings; however, our sector has been in crisis long before the pandemic and yet here we see another year’s budget pass us by without sufficient investment or any plan to do this.
“The Covid-19 crisis has demonstrated how vital the childcare sector is to supporting the wider economy but it has also exposed just how vulnerable it is to any wider economic instability. Professional staff continue to struggle on low wages in an unsustainable sector and parents continue to pay the highest fees as a percentage of take-home pay in Europe. We are relieved to see the Employment Wage Support Scheme extended for the childcare sector, but in the grand scheme of challenges that providers have been facing for some years now, this is a short-term sticking plaster at best.”
Budget leaves Ireland at bottom of European league table
Early Childhood Ireland has today repeated its call for the new Minister for Children to take immediate action to address the long-term vulnerabilities of the sector and build a more cohesive, fit-for-purpose childcare model in Ireland.
Director of Policy, Frances Byrne said today: “In advance of today’s Budget, the Minister for Children has said he is waiting for the publication of two reports, expected sometime next year, to provide significant evidence that would justify more funding for childcare. We believe the government already has all the evidence it needs to act: Ireland remains at the bottom of the European league table in terms of investment in early years and it is deeply disheartening to see another missed opportunity to address this, especially as the Programme for Government committed to more investment.
“Any measures to make the childcare sector more sustainable and in turn, give Irish children the best possible start in life, would be for the public good. At a time when we are facing unprecedented crises in so many areas of society, the pressure on providers and parents will only continue to grow as we wait for action from the government.”