11 October 2016

The childcare package announced today is underfunded and fails to address the chronic issue of low pay in the sector, according to Labour TD and spokesperson on Children and Youth Affairs, Jan O’Sullivan.

“In the Budget for next year, the sum that Katherine Zappone has secured for investment in a new programme covering childcare and early years education is a paltry €32m. In contrast, last year’s budget provided an extra 82 million for the introduction of the second free pre-school year.

After weeks of hearing rumours about an investment in this area of €100-150m next year, this announcement will be an enormous disappointment to parents and those working with young children.

The model proposed by Minister Zappone seems to be broadly modelled on what Labour proposed in the last election. But this much heralded childcare package is inadequately funded and will do little to improve pay for the dedicated and hard-working people who work with children in Ireland. And it’s unclear whether she will implement any cap on prices, so that parents can benefit from a new subvention from the state.

Labour recognises that a high quality childcare sector depends on a skilled workforce with decent pay and fair conditions. In our alternative budget proposals released last week, we pledged to implement the living wage of €11.50 for all childcare workers, compared to current average wages in the sector of just €10.27 per hour.

The proposals announced today will condemn those working in the sector to continue to try to build a career while taking home only the minimum wage in many cases

If we want people with good qualifications, who are committed to caring for and educating young children, we need to make sure they can build sustainable careers. We also need to fund the opportunities for them to go to college and up-skills.  This Budget sadly does nothing to achieve that.”

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