Clarity on Affordable Childcare Scheme needed as Budget fails to address system deficits
Labour Childcare Spokesperson Seán Sherlock, TD has called for clarity on the widening of Affordable Childcare Scheme thresholds as to who will be entitled to additional support and criticised the Government for not addressing the staffing crisis in childcare.
Deputy Sherlock said:
“The news that the Affordable Childcare Scheme thresholds are to be increased to assist more families needs further clarity. In order to qualify under these income thresholds does a family have to be in receipt of a medical card or a social welfare payment? There is also much more needed to address the deficits in early years education.
“Labour’s Alternative Budget presented much more ambitious measures than offered by the government today. We wanted to halve the cost of childcare for all parents. Any parent tuning into the Budget announcement won’t know what extra supports they are entitled to.
“The other key issue in childcare is the staffing crisis resulting from the lack of recognition of the work done by childcare providers. Professional wages are needed to provide top quality childcare.
“Government have failed to address the longstanding issue of pay for childcare workers. The Minister for Finance has discussed today the strength of our Economy; surely a strong economy should mean we can ensure a living wage for Childcare workers. We want to see professional wages for workers in the sector, cost control for parents, and certainty for providers.
“We have already outlined how we would move towards a professional wage for workers by starting with a living wage of €11.90 for all staff in the sector in 2019, costing €15
“In order to support providers, we also proposed allocating €21.9m for an increase of €5 in the ECCE weekly capitation rates. We recognise that a high-quality childcare sector depends on a skilled workforce with decent pay and fair conditions.”
“We need to do much more to make affordable, high-quality childcare accessible to all. Today’s announcement is shrouded in secrecy and the Minister should provide clarification on who will benefit.
“What we do know is that parents across the country will still be paying thousands for childcare in the year ahead. This Budget has failed to address their costs.”