Budget 2022 Must Deliver for Childcare Sector
09 September 2021
Speaking in support of the New Deal for Early Years Coalition’s pre-budget submission, Labour Party Spokesperson for Children and TD for Dublin Bay South, Ivana Bacik TD has called on the Government to properly resource the Early Years sector and to take steps towards the introduction of a universal public childcare system.
Deputy Bacik said,
‘I commend the New Deal for Early Years Coalition for undertaking its annual staffing survey of 3,255 respondents, which provides valuable insights into the problems facing early childhood education and care workers. Unfortunately, the research published today shows a grim continuation of worrying trends in the Early Years Sector. The survey’s results indicate that 44% of Early Years staff are actively seeking work in another sector, with 77% of those workers citing low pay as the most significant push factor.
‘Despite childcare fees in Ireland being among the highest in the EU, the average hourly pay for Early Years Educators is a mere €11.91. The resulting staff shortage has created significant challenges in terms of maintaining a safe and legal staff-child ratio in many facilities around the country. My office has been inundated in recent weeks with calls from concerned parents who are finding out that their childcare facility will not open in the autumn due to these issues or who are facing significant increases in the fees being charged by their creche. The decades’ long neglect of the sector is having a detrimental effect on workers, on managers, on parents and, most importantly, on children.
‘When compared to other small open economies in Europe, Ireland’s female labour force participation rate is among the lowest and remains below the pre-crisis levels. This is in large part due to unaffordable childcare costs, which have risen, despite early-childhood care and education scheme subsidies. Many parents in Dublin pay as much as €1,000 per month per child. We need to bring Ireland into line with our European neighbours when it comes to childcare. The current model is not working for anyone.
‘The proposals put forward by the New Deal for Early Years Coalition are sensible. Investment to bring all Early Years workers’ pay up to at least a Living Wage and to increase affordability for parents, as well as the creation of a new public service model, funded by staffing grants would make a significant different for workers and families alike. A radical overhaul is needed to address systemic failings in our national care system. ‘Childcare’ must be seen as an integral part of a State-funded education service; not just a private optional add-on for a minority of parents.