Labour calls for universal public childcare system

Labour Party Spokespersons have today called on Government to move quickly to properly resource the childcare and early years sector and to take steps towards introduction of a universal public childcare system in keeping with Labour party policy on childcare.

These calls are made in advance of a motion on childcare before the Dáil and following the release by SIPTU of research which highlights the precarious nature of employment endured by so many childcare workers. 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.

Deputy Sean Sherlock said:

“We are supporting tonight’s motion on childcare, in keeping with Labour policy seeking to bring Ireland into line with our European neighbours. Labour policy is to develop a universal public childcare system. Parents should never have to choose between their children and their job. Not surprisingly, when compared to other small open economies in Europe, Ireland’s female labour force participation rate is among the lowest and remains below the pre-crisis levels. This is in large part due to Ireland’s unaffordable childcare costs. We need to try something new and bring Ireland into line with our European neighbours when it comes to childcare. The current model is not working.

Senator Ivana Bacik said:

“We know that there are around 300,000 children in the 0-4 age group, and around two-thirds of them use some form of childcare service at present. In our 2020 GE Manifesto, we put forward plans for the phased introduction of a truly universal public childcare system; we are calling on Government to commit to this aim and to take the necessary steps involving increased funding and resourcing of the childcare and Early Years sector.

Senator Marie Sherlock said:

“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”.

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