Sinn Féin spokesperson on Children, Kathleen Funchion TD, has urged TDs to stand with parents and reduce high childcare fees.
Teachta Funchion was speaking as she introduced her Private Member’s Bill in the Dáil this evening, calling on the government to make commitments in Budget 2022 to establish a state childcare model and reduce costs for parents.
Sinn Féin are proposing a model which would see the government take on the cost of staff wages and reduce the cost of fees for parents by two thirds.
Speaking in the Dáil, Teachta Funchion said:
“This country has an atrocious track record when it comes to investment in Early Years.
“Despite all the commitments and policies that are unveiled, we are still faced with a situation where parents in some cases are paying the equivalent of a second mortgage.
“A recent UNICEF survey ranked Ireland among the world’s most expensive countries for early years and childcare.
“And we know the repercussions of exorbitant fees creates a significant barrier to maternal employment. Women are adversely affected by higher fees with many forced to stay out of the workforce while their children are small.
“I have always thought it is really disingenuous to encourage women to go back to work after a period of being at home with their children, only for the services and the infrastructure not to be there to support their return to the work.
“This motion is about providing families with a high-quality early year’s education system that is affordable, accessible and sustainable.
“I think it’s obvious to everyone here tonight and in the wider public that the early years sector in Ireland is in crisis!
“It also goes without saying that Early Years and childcare was in crisis before Covid, during Covid and will remain in crisis after Covid if the government does not seriously commit to sustainable investment in next week’s Budget.
“My motion sets out a clear pathway for the sector, one that I believe will deliver a fairer deal for the provision of early years in Ireland.
“We are failing children; we are failing parents and early years educators and we are failing providers.
“I am asking every TD here tonight to stand with parents who deserve lower fees, to stand with those working in the sector who deserve better pay and to stand with providers who should not fear the closures of their services.”