Govt inaction on childcare sees crisis escalate

CHFianna Fáil TD for Mayo Dara Calleary says the Government’s failure to act on childcare provision and costs has resulted in a major crisis in the sector.  Despite the establishment of the Department of Children & Youth Affairs in 2011, the Government has not brought any tangible proposals on childcare issues forward in the intervening four years.

Deputy Calleary commented, “Childcare costs are one of the biggest financial burdens being faced by families in Mayo and across the country.  In some cases, parents are paying out more for childcare than they are for their mortgage, with the average annual cost of childcare for two children estimated at €16,200.  This is a huge amount of money, for which there is no support.

“There are still not enough places in community subsidised child care services for people who wish to return to work.  Many people, when given the option of a job, are staying on the live register with the supports that this provides.  The cost of child care is within the control of the Minister and it is one of the main factors preventing people from returning to work.  Fianna Fáil has put forward concrete proposals, which will not only assist low income families, but will also provide a tax credit for middle income earners.  Parents should be supported if they choose to stay at work.  They are not only providing for their children, they are contributing to the economic recovery.

“We also need to focus on childcare providers.  There are many workers in the childcare sector who are frustrated at the lack of progress in their careers and their profession.  They are responsible for helping young children to prepare for the world outside the home and for the educational process, yet they are taken for granted.  The workforce development plan for the child care sector was launched in 2010, but little has been done to make that a reality and little has been done to lay down a career path for that workforce.  Pay scales for the sector are still being negotiated.  The complete lack of pay scales in the sector undermines any notion of professionalism and erodes the prospect of career progression.

“Society cannot continue to stick its head in the sand and hope the issue will go away.  This Government made a raft of promises on childcare provision and has failed to deliver on any of them.  The current situation is completely unacceptable and can no longer be ignored.  We are walking ourselves into a crisis, which could easily be resolved through concrete measures which would deliver high quality affordable childcare for parents along with a designated career path and professional pay scales for those working within the sector”.