22 July 2020
By Elaine Murphy
Speaking in support on a Sinn Féin motion on childcare in the Dáil on Tuesday evening, Labour Cork East TD Seán Sherlock demanded that parents and staff in the sector be given certainty on what is happening in the restoration of services and the funding of the childcare sector.
“I would ask that the Minister and the government would give consideration to the continuation of the temporary wage subsidy scheme for the childcare sector,” said Deputy Sherlock.
“I think that is one of the bedrocks by which you can support employment in the sector, because if you look at the rates of attrition, and the Minister should not be trumpeting that over 85% of all services which are usually open in the summer months have already reopened just three weeks into the reopening period that signifies that there’s a rate of attrition already of those services would normally open in summer. What I fear, what we all fear, is that come September, with the uncertainty that exists now around the reopening of schools ,where we don’t have a clear pathway, that feeds into uncertainty in respect of childcare. And for the fourth time in this house. I will speak about the regressivity that exists for women, working mothers, in this society as a result of COVID-19, and we have to stem that immediately.”
“And if there is uncertainty about September in relation to the further reopening of schools, that has a knock on effect on creches and preschool and early years. What we need know and what parents demand, what those who work within the sector demand is that there is some certainty brought to bear, as soon as possible and I’m not talking about weeks, I’m talking about days, so that people can plan and have some certainty and have some confidence.”
Deputy Sherlock also echoed the call of SIPTU Big Start and the need for a fully funded model of childcare.
“We do need to move towards a fully funded model. The one thing that I think that everybody is united on is that we have to stem the tide of attrition of workers within the sector. We recognize the fact that the sector is funded to the tune of 60% but, I think we can go further. I think in the current climate there’s never been a greater opportunity to actually take that one step further and in the crisis that we have at present, now is the time for lateral and imaginative thinking. The minister will find that if he moves in that direction, and I speak for our party the Labour Party, will certainly move with the Minister in lockstep, if we feel that it is a genuine effort to create a properly funded and fully funded model of choice.