Sinn Féin spokesperson on Children and Youth Affairs Kathleen Funchion TD has said that budget 2020 fails to tackle the cost of childcare, and that the Government has once again completely ignored Early Years/Childcare workers.
No measures were introduced to address low pay or poor working conditions in the sector or to address the ongoing staffing crisis for service providers.
Deputy Funchion said;
“We have seen little by way of tackling rocketing childcare costs for the majority of parents paying extortionate fees. Working families will continue to be squeezed through unaffordable rents and mortgages, high costs of living, and ludicrous childcare costs that amount to a second mortgage.
“The new National Childcare Scheme will leave many vulnerable children and single parent families in a worse position than before. There is little evidence of any poverty proofing of Minister Zappone’s new scheme.
“A recent survey conducted by the ACP found that out of 1,127 childcare services involving 34,261 children availing of targeted subsidies, 50% of school aged children will have no entitlement to term time after school or school aged childcare supports under the National Childcare Scheme. This is hugely worrying.
“No detail has been given today on how many social workers or support staff will be provided and which are urgently needed.
“A radical new approach is needed. Sinn Féin would commence a 5 year transformational programme of reform that ensures Childcare and Early Years staff are properly paid and fees are slashed for parents.
“This would be €28m in the first year, we would also significantly reduce fees across the State for parents over a 5 year period starting with a reduction of 13% in the first full year increasing to a 66% reduction by end of year 5.
“This would amount to a cut on average of €100 per month on a monthly crèche fee of €800 initially increasing year upon year. We would achieve this through direct financial support for all centre-based providers that choose to opt- in to a new Early Years/Childcare system.
“The Government cannot continue to ignore workers who are the bedrock of this sector. With Budget 2020 we see a clear dismissal of their invaluable contribution, but it has not gone unnoticed by the thousands working in it.
“Sinn Féin has consistently called in our previous Alternative Budgets for the introduction of pay scales, funded by the State, that reflect years of service and qualifications – whether that be through university degrees or through continued professional development.
“We would introduce a proper a pay scale for all workers in the sector regardless of level starting with the current Living Wage of €12.30 upon entry level. This would increase year upon year over a 5 year period for all staff at all levels.
“Early Years and Childcare workers need to be financially supported and encouraged to upskill and remain in the sector, not burn out.
“Unfortunately, Budget 2020 is a lost opportunity in giving hope to those working in the sector, or indeed, parents once again.”