Sinn Féin spokesperson for Children, Kathleen Funchion TD has warned that the coalition is continuing to fail children and parents through its ongoing failure to address skyrocketing childcare fees despite Programme for Government pledges.
Teachta Funchion said:
“Last year the Government announced a series of ambitious commitments to reform the childcare sector.
“A year on from the Programme for Government, not only have childcare fees not fallen, but they have actually risen.
“The reality is, as revealed in Pobal’s 2020 Early Years Sector Profile Survey, fees have continued to rise across the board in both private and public creches. Families across the state are struggling to cope with skyrocketing childcare fees.
“The Government has dismally failed working parents who need affordable childcare in their first year. Families are crying out for this crisis to be addressed, but the Government is failing to act.
“But most worrying is their reluctance to address the considerable issue impacting disadvantaged children under the National Childcare Scheme.
“The stated commitment to children’s rights rings hollow when the Department continues to pursue a policy of under allocation in childcare hours, effectively punishing children for the work and educational choices their parents make.
“The recent complaint by the Association of Childhood Professionals to the Children’s Ombudsman and EU on the treatment of disadvantaged children has again highlighted an issue I have been raising since the National Childcare Scheme was introduced in 2019.
“The repercussions of our broken childcare system were exposed starkly during the public health emergency as vital frontline workers struggled to juggle their jobs and find appropriate childcare.
“I have consistently raised the issue of women being adversely affected in their career choices by the cost of childcare. In November 2020 almost 90% of female respondents to Sinn Féin’s My Childcare Story survey said they felt childcare costs have been a barrier to them returning to the workforce.
“Cost and access to local childcare remain the greatest challenge for so many families, and I think at this stage it is obvious to everyone, except perhaps the Government that the current system is not working. Nor will an enhanced model of the current structure fix the fundamental problems afflicting the early years and childcare sector in this country.
“Childcare should be affordable and it should be accessible locally, it’s a place where children go to learn, develop and grow – that’s why it’s vital we get it right.
“As they mark one year of being in government, the coalition marks a year of failing to act on the childcare crisis. There can be no more delays. They must act and reduce childcare fees to give families a much-needed break.”