20 September 2021
By Tom Collins
Sinn Féin’s Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has called on the Government to urgently provide the early years sector with the investment it deserves, delivering accessible, affordable childcare for parents and securing properly paid careers for early years professionals.
This follows reports that many childcare facilities in Cork face closure in the coming months due to an inability to attract and retain staff.
The Cork South Central TD said
“It is no wonder there is a lack of childcare places across Cork, given the lack of respect childcare workers have been shown by the Government.
“Childcare workers are often on little more than minimum wage, and burnout is at an all-time high. This isn’t fair and it isn’t sustainable, it is the reason that the sector is haemorrhaging highly qualified staff.
“Our childcare system simply isn’t fit for purpose. Fees are far too high and wages are far too low. The system doesn’t work well enough for parents, staff or providers.
“Ireland continues to lag behind its closest neighbours in Europe when it comes to investment in childcare, a recent UNICEF childcare investment ranking putting Ireland at 36 out of 41 countries.
“It begs the question – why do we keep getting it so wrong when it is obvious to everyone how to alleviate stress on the sector?
“To see prices drop, workers retained, and for services to remain open, we must substantially ramp up investment.
“In 2020, Sinn Féin proposed a fully costed alternative budget that prioritised children’s right to an early years education, enshrined lower fees for parents, reducing by one-third in the first year and two-thirds in the second year, increased wages immediately to at least the Living Wage and ensured a viable future for service providers with a sustainability fund of approximately €125million.
“Government ministers and TDs continue to pay lip service to parents, service providers and those working in the sector. Yet when it comes to voting for investment in the sector, they toe the party line.
“I am calling on the Minister to take the dire warnings on staffing levels, retention and recruitment in Cork seriously and to match it with serious investment.”