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31st Aug 2020

Irish government need to build childcare sector around Scandinavian model

Melissa Carton

Many want to see changes in the childcare sector.

Early Childhood Ireland, the leading organisation in the childcare sector, has said the challenges presented by Covid-19 could be the driving force needed to bring Ireland closer to the Scandinavian childcare model.

Early Childhood Ireland, which supports 3,800 childcare members nationwide, was commenting today ahead of the planned reopening of 3,000 creches and afterschool childcare settings as the 2020/2021 school year commences.

Over 1,500 providers have already reopened in line with government guidelines.

Like many, my children returned to school today, with my youngest starting her first day at creche.

Currently she is attending under the free ECCE scheme, but only covers her for three hours of childcare and after that any additional hours fall on the parent to pay for.

Early Childcare Ireland see this as a problem and urge the Irish government to overhaul the Irish childcare sector.

Teresa Heeney, CEO of Early Childhood Ireland, said:

“As the new academic year starts and we look forward to the Budget announcement in October, the Government has an opportunity to take some practical steps to bring our childcare system closer to the internationally-lauded Scandinavian model.

Firstly, we need to see increased and sustained investment in childcare. Early Childhood Ireland is calling for investment in the sector under both the 2021 Budget and the new National Development Plan.”

Heeney went on to say that the high cost of childcare in Ireland is a huge problem and we need to take the example of other European countries and make it available to all parents.

“If we don’t get this right, Irish parents will continue to pay high fees, staff will remain low-paid, and providers will be left to battle the obstacles of an unsustainable system which could, and should, be addressed by the Department once and for all.

Ireland is at the bottom of the EU investment league and it is now time for the Government to present a timeline for year-on-year funding which will change this, so that children and their families can have the same quality experiences we see in other countries.”