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New Government must firmly commit to comprehensive public childcare

Published: Friday, April 17, 2020

The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) today called on both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael to publicly commit to providing comprehensive public childcare in the next term of Government.

Speaking at the Geary Institute conference today, Director Orla O’Connor said that at a time in Ireland where we can clearly see that the provision of childcare is an essential public service, it is critical that childcare receives the investment and focus by the next government as we move out of this crisis.

“While it is important to see Fianna Fail and Fine Gael commit reform and modernise childcare in the Framework document, what women, families and workers need to see right now is a commitment to a public childcare model. This is the only way to ensure quality childcare at affordable prices, as well as ensuring staff are paid at least a Living Wage. The response by the Government during the COVID crisis to subsidise the sector and the salaries of the workforce are key building blocks which must be further developed, and accompanied by strong regulation including the regulation of fees to parents.”

She continued,

“Our childcare system needs comprehensive reform, with greater investment and proper salaries for workers. Pre Covid-19, our childcare crisis saw us have the highest fees in Europe for far too long, pushing women out of the workforce, paying workers well below the Living Wage and placing burdens on grandparents.”

Orla O’Connor concluded,

“We need to see major moves toward a comprehensive public model of quality affordable accessible early years and out of school hours care in the next Programme for Government. This means establishing a single Early Years and School-Age Childcare agency for the sector. This will not happen without proper investment. As things stand, Ireland invests a paltry 0.2% of GDP in the Early Years. This must increase substantially, with investment increasing to at least 1% of GDP over the next decade.”

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