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Press Release: RTÉ Investigates Update

Next Gov must Develop a Childcare Subsidy

April 22, 2016

“The next Government must develop a Childcare Subsidy, not a tax credit.” This is according to Teresa Heeney CEO of Early Childhood Ireland as we head into a weekend where Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil seem to be making progress in their discussions on a new government.

 

She says: “It is imperative that whatever deal they forge provides an impetus for strong investment in childcare.  And the message for the new government is simple: financial supports for childcare must be through a ‘Childcare Subsidy’ for a childcare place, which has been shown to both increase the quantity and improve the quality of childcare.  A tax credit will just not do so.  Our children deserve the best quality childcare they can get, we must ensure that this is not jeopardised by a political deal.”

 

Furthermore, Early Childhood Ireland, which has over 3,500 childcare members who support over 100,000 children and their families through preschool, afterschool and full daycare provision nationwide, is urging the new government to partner with and support the early years sector in expanding to deliver the second preschool year and the introduction of rolling enrolment, as announced in the last budget.  It says that the government must include a dedicated Minister and Department for Children & Youth Affairs.

 

According to Teresa Heeney: “Childcare was a key issue in the general election and parents and childcare professionals, quite rightly, expect  the new government to build and to fund a childcare system that works.   That means affordability and choice for parents, a quality experience for children and a sustainable business plan for those delivering the service.  We’ve defined and presented our key essentials for childcare to all our elected representatives and we are urging those in power to put the required investment behind this sector.”  

 

Ends.

 

Further information:  Teresa Heeney 087 767 1481 or Dónall Geoghegan 087 2225691 or Carmel Doyle 087 2473537 

 

Editor’s notes – Early Childhood Ireland’s 9 Childcare Essentials in a new Programme for Government April 2016

Investment, Quality and Sustainability

  1. Increase investment in early childhood education and care towards the UNICEF target of 1% of GDP.  Government will make significant progress towards this target during the period to 2021 through making an additional investment of at least €100 million per year, each year.   
  2. Conduct and publish an independent review of the real cost of providing quality childcare in private and community settings.  The review will recognise the varying needs of children attending different types of settings and take account of the costs of providing childcare in different contexts (e.g. urban/rural, commercial rates), as well as the need for fair pay for early childhood educators.  It will examine how to best ensure viability and sustainability of provision and avoid displacement, and how the cost to parents can best be reduced without affecting quality. 

Based on this review commit to:

  • adjusting state supports to ensure that children from low-income families are able to avail of and benefit from quality childcare, 
  • increasing the financial subsidies, under ECCE and other programmes, provided to both community and private settings to adequately reflect the real cost of providing quality childcare that is viable and sustainable,
  • ensure that pay and conditions in childcare reflect the drive to professionalise and keep qualified staff in the sector. 
  1. Drive quality throughout the sector by investing in the professionalisation of the workforce, providing funding to ensure that all early years professionals enhance their own practice through subsidised formal learning and five days Continuing Professional Development each year.  

Childcare for Under 3 Year Olds

  1. Introduce a Childcare Subsidy of €20 per week for children under three in childcare in 2017, where the state directly pays the provider or registered childminder to subsidise the real cost of childcare, and increase the state’s contribution to €60 per week by 2021.  This subsidy can best be rolled out as part of the planned ‘Single Affordable Childcare Programme’ announced in Budget 2016, with higher subsidies for low-income households. 

Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE)

  1. Ensure the success of the expansion of ‘free preschool’ (ECCE) so that all children can benefit from the age of three by providing additional supports to childcare providers to enable them to expand.  Without supports for expansion it is likely that many children will not be able to avail of their two year preschool entitlement. 

‘Out of School’ Care and Childminding

  1. Introduce a new system to support and expand ‘out of school’ care (also known as ‘afterschool’) for school-age children, in keeping with the recommendations of the Interdepartmental Group on Investment in Childcare, including the introduction of quality standards, state subsidies and regulations for the sector.  All expansion should build on existing quality provision and avoid displacement. 
  2. Introduce regulations for childminding to ensure that children receive the best quality care in their early years. 

Provide additional supports to Children with Additional Needs

  1. Implement the recommendations in the second report of the Interdepartmental Group on Investment in Childcare to ensure that children with additional needs are supported so that they can avail of good quality, inclusive childcare. 

Parental Leave

  1. Introduce paid parental leave in 2017 and increase the number of weeks so that children can be at home until they reach 12 months and, following maternity leave, both parents can share responsibility for looking after their child during this critical first year. 
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