Labour Women launch vision for universal childcare

Labour Women
01 October 2021


  • Universal public system would eliminate low wages and high fees


Each year empty promises of ‘free childcare’ are made on Budget day, but these measures only cover a few hours in a work day leaving parents scrambling to fill the gap by reducing their own working time, or asking family for support. The ‘system’ today is held together by subsidies, grants and tax credits, with low wages for workers and high fees for parents creating an unfair system for all.

All children deserve equal early years. A universal, public system would ensure:

  • Equality for Children 
  • Affordability for Families 
  • Fairness for Professionals 

Speaking at the launch of the campaign Labour Party spokesperson on childcare Ivana Bacik said:

“Ask parents, early years educators and those who work in or manage childcare facilities and they will all point to serious problems with Ireland’s childcare system. Places are becoming increasingly scarce and costs continue to rise for parents, despite early-childhood care and education scheme subsidies. Parents in Dublin can now be paying as much as €1,000 per month per child, yet wages for many of those working in the sector remain very low.

“We need a new approach. I have long called for a publicly funded, universal and affordable childcare scheme which would be accessible to all. It would require the State to invest in the staff who care for and nurture our children. As well as the increased concern about the availability of places in the future as many providers have closed during the pandemic, significant hikes in costs have also been reported as providers prepared for the new term in September. Against this growing crisis the Government appears to have no vision for change. I commend Labour Women for launching this campaign, and I look forward to continuing work with them to bring about meaningful change for the sector.”

Labour Women Chair Ellen O’Sullivan said:

“We don’t value the Early Years Sector the way we should. We take it for granted that the State provides primary and second level education, so why don’t we expect the same for early years?”

“Today, we are calling on the Government and the Department to outline a realistic trajectory towards 1% investment of GDP/GNI* into the early years sector. Ireland currently invests just 0.3% GDP into the sector, placing Ireland far behind the European average. In fact Sweden, France, Denmark and Finland all invest over 1% which is the UNICEF target.”

Labour Women Deputy Chair Hannah Deasy said:

“We believe the for-profit, market-driven model should be replaced by one which is state-led and universal, as with primary education. Public investment in early years education builds a better society because it is an investment in our collective future. We are also calling for immediate action to address low wages.”


Labour Women’s plan for a universal childcare scheme can be accessed at this link:

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