Huge cost of childcare ‘financially crippling’ many Kilkenny parents, says local TD
By COLIN BARTLEY
CHILDCARE in Ireland is a “broken” system that is “financially crippling” many parents in Kilkenny, a local TD said today.
Deputy Kathleen Funchion, who is also Sinn Fein spokesperson for children, has called for “a complete restructuring of the childcare and early years system”.
Figures released by the Department for Children and Youth Affairs last week revealed the average weekly cost of full-time childcare in Kilkenny is €168.25 per week, or €8,750 per year.
Speaking at the launch of Sinn Fein’s Alternative Budget 2020 in Dublin today, Deputy Funchion said the party would slash the cost of childcare to the State to the tune of €85 million over the next five years.
The Kilkenny TD said: “A radical new approach is needed for our childcare and early years sector. The current system is broken and completely unsustainable for staff and is financially crippling for so many parents.
“Sinn Féin would commence a five-year transformational programme of childcare and early years reform that ensures childcare and early years staff are properly paid and that fees are slashed for parents.
“Our Alternative Budget aims to reduce fees across the state for parents significantly over a five-year period. We would start with a reduction of 13% in the first full year, increasing to a 66% reduction by the end of year five. This would amount to a cut on average of €100 per month on a monthly crèche fee of €800 initially.”
Sinn Fein says they would achieve this cut through direct financial support for all centre-based providers that choose to opt into a new childcare system.
The party also wants the issue of child care workers’ low wages to be addressed in the Budget.
Deputy Funchion (pictured below) added: “We would introduce a proper pay scale for all workers in the sector regardless of level, starting with the current living wage of €12.30 upon entry-level. This would increase year-on-year over a five-year period.
“If we expect high quality education and care, as well as a high standard in the delivery of those services to our children, then we need to address the unfair working conditions of staff.
“It’s common sense – if we expect staff to work above and beyond their duty for minimum or below minimum wage, the end result will not always be in the best interests of the child.
“Sinn Féin believes another way is possible to end the spiralling costs while at the same time create an early years sector that values and pays staff accordingly while delivering high quality education and care for all children.”