Labour demand for €200 monthly cap on childcare fees
19 September 2023
- Labour is supporting the National Women’s Council of Ireland’s day of action for Public Childcare
Attending the National Women's Council of Ireland's Day of Action for public childcare, Labour Senator Marie Sherlock said the time has come for Government to make real a public system of childcare in this country.
Senator Sherlock said:
"The building blocks for a public system are already in place with the cap on fees for providers and sectoral employment agreements with workers. Yet, the reality on the ground is one of crisis due to high staff turnover, lack of affordable places and lack of investment.
"Due to to the meagre levels of pay, there is a massive turnover of staff in the sector. Coupled with a Government who has put a derisory pay deal on the table, it should come as no surprise to see the number of early years' educators fleeing the sector.
"All too often, parents come to our offices to say they either simply cannot find childcare places for their children, and many others who say they simply cannot afford the cost of care. Every week, parents recount their stories of having to make decisions they would otherwise not choose, like delaying the return to work post-maternity leave or reducing their hours of work.
"It is simply staggering that 45% of all women in paid employment are working part-time hours. The lack of affordable, accessible childcare is a workers' rights issue, particularly for women. This Government continues to leave them behind.
"There is a clear lack of equitable access to places that is slowing down the prospect of a public childcare system for all. In Dublin’s North-East Inner City, for example, recent research showed that one in four children are without access to free preschool places. Everything we know about breaking the cycle of disadvantage and deprivation points to putting in place support for children in the earliest years of their lives. How can Government stand over this?
"We know that providers, particularly the ECCE part of the sector, are struggling to continue to operating and providing their service of care in their communities for children and families. Government must step up and ameliorate the situation for providers like these, and secure the future of the small preschools that are located at the heart of our communities.
"I commend the National Women's Council of Ireland for holding the Government's feet to the fire on this matter, and Labour will be proudly joining with the Council, their activists and all stakeholders to push for change in this year's Budget.
"Labour is demanding a monthly cap of €200 on childcare fees. This would be at a cost of €275 million annually to the State - money well spent. A cap would have a transformative impact on working families lives.
"However, this must be done in conjunction with a pay deal to ensure that those at the heart of providing services can be kept in the jobs that they are passionate about."