All sides must work together to solve the deadlock in childcare

Seán Sherlock TD
04 October 2023

Labour’s spokesperson on Children and Youth Affairs, Seán Sherlock TD has said that it is vital that all sides work together to reduce fees for childcare in Ireland. Speaking in the Dáil on Tuesday night, Deputy Sherlock called on all stakeholders to collaborate and ensure professional pay levels for child care staff.

Deputy Sherlock said:

“The crisis in access to child care needs to be urgently addressed. I appreciate there are significant challenges to the sector. For years we did not have a model which was based on the notion of having a fair rate of pay for workers and I acknowledge now, at least now we have that model. We know the rate of staff turnover is much too high, I suspect the reason is that people cannot sustain themselves in the sector at the current rates of pay.

“We in the Labour Party support a universal public model, though I appreciate this isn’t unanimously supported by the whole sector. I propose a model be devised through core funding, which allows for a decent rate of pay that is commensurate with the professional skills and levels of educational attainment and continuous professional development these staff now have.

“I’m calling for Government to intervene, bring all stakeholders around the table and strike those rates of pay in a way that satisfies employers and employees.

“According to SIPTU, the proposed hourly rates of pay fail to recognise or reward early years professionals. These rates are €13.65 for early years educators and school age childcare practitioners, €14.70 for lead educators and room leaders, €16.28 for graduate lead educators, €16.49 for deputy assistant managers, €17.33 for managers, and €18.11 for graduate managers.

“Labour believes that if we can find a model that gives a good and competitive rate of pay, it will attract people to the sector and retain current staffing levels.

“I suggest that any intervention the Government can make would be worthwhile.  I acknowledge that core funding is increasing but we need more ambition. If there is scope within the budgetary parameters, we should strive to use it for the social good that childcare provides for society.

“The lack of affordable and accessible childcare is a workers’ rights issue, particularly for women. The National Women’s Council recently said 45% of all women in paid employment are working part-time hours. Government needs to do more to intervene in this area, it is still a major challenge for working women. We know that women shoulder the burden of care responsibility in most households. The clear lack of equitable access to childcare places is slowing down progress towards a public childcare system for all.

“I’m calling on all sides to work together to alleviate the crisis in childcare. If we had a universal model of childcare that was properly funded, with good rates of pay that retain workers in the sector, it would stave off many of the issues of disadvantage and poverty.  That would be a good start. If, however, the priorities, resources and funding in this budget were to pivot towards children in a substantial way, we would do children a great service.”

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