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30th Aug 2021

Early Childhood Ireland raises serious funding concerns with TDs as crèches reopen

Melissa Carton

There seems to be no solution in sight for Ireland’s childcare crisis.

Early Childhood Ireland, the leading organisation in the early years sector, has raised funding concerns with TDs today as many members reopen childcare settings across Ireland for the new term.

Early Childhood Ireland members are also reporting additional staffing issues as employees seek out better pay and working conditions in other sectors.

Early Childhood Ireland is calling on the Government to meet their commitment in the national early years strategy, First 5, to double investment in childcare by 2028 and to publish the plan to achieve this as part of Budget 2022.

Commenting today, Frances Byrne, Director of Policy with Early Childhood Ireland, said:

“The insecurity of childcare funding has been recognised by this and previous governments. Immediate action to reform and invest in this essential sector is long overdue and yet, our members and the families they support are beginning another new term with uncertainty hanging over them.

We are calling on the Government to ease these concerns by taking real action in Budget 2022 to honour the commitment to double investment in childcare by 2028. UNICEF recently stated that rich countries should invest at least 1% of GDP in early years. Ireland currently spends just 0.1%. Young children and their families deserve better.”

Ms. Byrne said that Early Childhood Ireland members are today contacting their local TDs to raise concerns about staffing issues and wider sector sustainability.

“While childcare settings continue to face the challenges caused by historic under-funding, the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted early years and school-age care as an essential public good and exposed just how fragile our sector is. The government has recognised this through specific supports such as a bespoke Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme – a scheme which continues to support 80 per cent of salaries in childcare settings, more than in any other sector.

“The security offered by this scheme is holding childcare providers’ heads above water at the moment, but, long-term, sustainable solutions are needed. Otherwise parents will continue to face waiting lists for their babies, alongside high fees. Budget 2022 must provide us with the roadmap to that solution.”

Early Childhood Ireland supports 3,900 childcare members nationwide, who in turn support more than 120,000 children and their families.