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Early Childhood Ireland Response to RTÉ Investigates: Creches – Behind Closed Doors

Reaction from Early Childhood Ireland to public information campaign around ‘Affordable Childcare’

May 30, 2017

While we welcome the launch of a public information campaign by the Department for Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) regarding ‘Affordable Childcare’ to provide critical information to both providers and parents, the amount of work for childcare services wishing to sign up over the next three months for a September 2017 launch and thereafter in delivering this scheme must not be underestimated, unrecognised or unpaid. 

Affordable Childcare is based on a flawed cost model to begin with as it does not reflect the real cost of providing quality childcare.  Instead, it is based on the current, unacceptable status quo whereby the majority of the sector are breaking even at best and a sizeable part of the workforce are low paid and employed on a part-time/38 week basis. 

We recognise the Minister for Children & Youth Affairs’ stated ambitions to seek significant increases in the next budget to address the historical underfunding in this sector.  However, we need more immediate action and we are calling on Minister Zappone and DCYA to make provision for the payment of an additional 5 days of non-contact time needed by providers to deliver this scheme.  

The success of this scheme is dependent on the participation and engagement of Early Childhood Ireland’s 3600 members across community and private services and we are committed to working with DCYA to ensure that Affordable Childcare delivers quality for children, sustainability for the workforce and sector and affordability for parents.  With this in mind, it is essential that the substantially increased workload providers will face is recognised with an additional stand-alone payment to services for non-contact time and we have already written to the Minister for Children & Youth Affairs in this regard.  As with the non-contact time provided in Budget 2017 for the ECCE scheme, an annual grant payment should be issued directly to services in time for the roll out in September.

Furthermore, the original design of the Affordable Childcare Scheme, with a dedicated parental portal, was meant to limit, indeed reduce, the administrative burden for providers.  This is not the case in reality and this increased administration burden can’t simply be absorbed for free by our members.  The ongoing delivery of the scheme via daily planning in terms of recording observations of children’s development and activities; communication with parents; staff-meetings; and engagement with external agencies has not been costed properly and we can’t wait for Budget 2018 to address this financial gap and goodwill alone will not pay the people delivering this scheme on the ground.

We will be addressing these concerns with DCYA over the coming days, as a matter of urgency.

Ends.

Further information:  Teresa Heeney 087 7671481 or Frances Byrne 086 1438680

Editor’s note: Early Childhood Ireland represents over 3,600 childcare members who support over 100,000 children and their families through preschool, afterschool and full day-care provision nationwide. Its work includes quality enhancement, publications, advocacy, training, business support and information for a sector that employs 25,000 people today.

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