Sherlock questions CRA grading on Affordable Childcare
Labour spokesperson on Children & Youth Affairs Seán Sherlock has queried the grading given to the Government on the Affordable Childcare Scheme, saying that the progress to date is still mired in potential delays due to implementation backlogs, and the funding being committed is not being spent.
Deputy Sherlock said:
“Despite the announcement of the Affordable Childcare Scheme in October 2016, progress has been painfully slow, parents are still not seeing all the benefits, and the annual budget allocations are not being used up which indicates a failure to properly subsidise both childcare providers, and parents while ensuring decent professional salaries for those working in the sector.
“Politicians across all parties and groups are agreed in their support of the Affordable Childcare Scheme but not in the manner it was originally announced, to take effect after the next Budget.
“The legislative framework has yet to be published and we are already at the end of February. Coupled with the Brexit Omnibus Bill that will dominate proceeding for the next numbers of weeks up to and beyond the end of March, it seems odd that the Children’s Rights Alliance would give the Government a C on this.
“The Minister in responses to parliamentary questions has admitted that it is intended to do a communications campaign in March – at the very height of Brexit uncertainty. I would regard the Government’s policy in this are as dangerously close to stalling rather than steady.
“There must be results for parents, and results for the workers in the sector through the establishment of proper professional wages structures. Such a move to secure professional structures will have an impact on children in Early Childhood Education.
“There is still no single streamlined childcare subsidy programme, and only half of TUSLA registered services operated the current universal subsidy in 2017/2018. I hope this will be addressed, and participation increased, but time is dragging on.
“As highlighted by the Children Rights Alliance in its report, there is no cap on fees that can be charged, and there is no clear data on how affordable childcare actually is for parents and what impact the subsidies have had. It is clear to me that a lot of work remains to be done, and that progress has been too slow.”