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09th Dec 2021

Government to offer childcare providers €200 million to freeze their fees

Trine Jensen-Burke

Government announces €207m funding for childcare providers

A “first step” towards reducing the sky-high childcare costs facing Irish parents?

Yesterday, Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman announced details of a new €207m per year plan that will offer childcare providers State funding in exchange for freezing their fees.

The costly plan aims not only to improve pay and condition for workers in the sector, but also ensure parents will not face yet another hike in childcare fees next year.

Speaking on Newtalk Breakfast yesterday, Minister O’Gorman backed the scheme, explaining that it is the first important step towards reducing the crippling fees Irish parents face.

“Childcare fees are far too expensive in this country,” O’Gormansaid.

“I have always said that and I am committed to reducing it. The measures we have brought in, both in the budget this year and the policy measures announced yesterday, are the first step towards finally addressing that issue.”

He continued:

“Previous Governments have brought in the National Childcare Scheme (NCS) – again, money going directly into the pockets of parents to save them money – but that money has immediately been eroded when childcare providers have had to raise their fees.

“What I have introduced now is what I believe is the mechanism to actually prevent this vicious cycle continuing. We can actually get fees capped and we can then work to reduce them through the NCS in the future.”

Ensure childcare staff don’t leave the sector

Minister O’Gorman said the new  plan commits a “very significant amount of additional money” to the childcare sector, an investment they very much need.

“This is the first step,” he said.

“It was important to get that support for services in there so they can pay their staff properly and we can get that agreement not to raise fees.”

The Minister explains he is aware childcare staff are leaving the childcare sector far too regularly simply because they don’t see that future for them in it.

“If we can guarantee that future for them and show them how they can progress, they will stay in the sector and that will result in better outcomes for children.”

However, the plan has already faced criticism from Childcare Services Ireland – which has warned it does nothing to reduce the sky-high costs parents are already facing and is severely lacking in detail.