Government risks a childcare crisis in September – certainty is required now – Sherlock
Labour Party Spokesperson on Employment Affairs, Senator Marie Sherlock has called on Government to move quickly to properly resource the early years sector, saying that there is significant risk of a full-blown crisis for the sector in September unless certainty and support are offered now.
Speaking after the release by SIPTU of research which highlights the precarious nature of employment endured by so many childcare workers, Senator Sherlock said that the warning signs are clearly visible, and must be heeded if we are to avert calamity for early years workers, children and parents.
SIPTU’s research indicates that close to 30% of childcare workers are currently earning less than they had been prior to the pandemic. 61% say that they experience difficulty making ends meet on their current incomes, while 1 in 3 say they intend to leave the sector within the next 12 months.
Senator Sherlock said:
“We have already seen that childcare providers are closing at a higher rate than previous years, affected by the pandemic. Added to that, there is an increased difficulty in taking on new children in an era of social distancing and increased hygiene requirements, with the result that many parents of babies are unable to secure places for their children in September.
“Childcare services provide one of the foundations to the running of the Irish economy, and a crisis for the sector will have consequences right across the country. If working parents can’t secure places for their children, they themselves may have to cut back on their working hours, or be forced into continued remote working against their preference.
“Crucially, early years workers need clarity on the extension of supports to the sector, so that they can plan for the months ahead and be sure of their income and conditions.
“The Temporary Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme for the sector ended on 28 June, and a new Government package of measures was introduced, to last until 23 August. This includes an extension of the TWSS to pay up to 85% of the cost of wages; a Reopening Grant, a Capital Grant, and the recommencement of DCYA funding schemes.
Senator Sherlock continued that clarity on an extension or update to this package must be communicated by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs well in advance of the deadline, to provide certainty for workers, children and parents, and to ensure that a situation does not develop where early years workers are forced to leave the sector and where parents can’t secure a childcare place for their children in September.
“We can’t afford a crisis in childcare this September on top of the problems that have already been heaped upon the sector. Today’s research from SIPTU indicates the precarity and uncertainty that dominate the lives of so many childcare workers. A properly functioning childcare sector is essential to the operation of the Irish economy, and we owe it to childcare workers, children and parents to provide a situation in which the sector can fully resume operation”.