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National Childcare Scheme is excluding the children of many vulnerable families in Dublin’s North inner city. Sherlock calls for review.

19 April 2021

Labour Party Senator Marie Sherlock has called on Minister for Children, Roderic O’ Gorman to instigate an urgent review of the new National Childcare Scheme (NCS) to ensure it adequately supports all children.

Senator Sherlock said:

“Over recent weeks, a number of community-run early years services located in Dublin’s north inner city have been telling me about the very significant threat the move to a new National Childcare scheme is having on their ability to provide support and care to children growing up in severe disadvantage.

"At the heart of the problem is that the new NCS fails to adequately provide for the children of parents who are not in work.

"The reduction in State support to the early years services for these children means that a number of early years services are faced with the appalling prospect of now having to turn away children who would have previously qualified for support or to close their services. In some early years services, this will affect up to two thirds or more of the children.

"The early years services are providing vital support to the most disadvantaged children who are often living in challenging circumstances and in cramped living conditions. The early years services provide care, structure and play in these children’s lives as well as being an enormous help with homework in the afterschool services.

“The situation is simply unacceptable and it will get worse come September as the transition arrangements from the old CCSP (Community Childcare Subvention Programme) where children would previously have been supported to the NCS where they will not, will have ended at the end of the school term in June. The Minister now needs to be move urgently on this.

“The National Childcare Scheme represented good progress for working parents when it was established in 2020, and I welcomed the incorporation of the principle of universal subvention for childcare. But the reality is that the scheme excludes many vulnerable families by virtue of the way it is currently designed. Some may say that the whole point of childcare is to subsidise parents in work. But this ignores the reality experienced by our most vulnerable families across the State.

“As one provider memorably said to me, they were established in 1920s to care for the poorest children in the city, and while they survived the onslaught of the Black and Tans, they may not survive this new National Childcare scheme  

“Ultimately, when we talk about breaking the cycle of poverty and tackling entrenched disadvantaged, then it is about ensuring that all children are supported.  I am calling on the Minister for Children to urgently act to ensure that targeted supports are in place to fund early years services working with the most economically disadvantaged children in this city and across the country."