‘Unacceptable’ Government plan won’t save créches from going under – Kilkenny TD
A Kilkenny TD has expressed “huge disappointment” at the Government’s new plan to rescue the childcare sector.
Local poll-topper Deputy Kathleen Funchion, who is also Sinn Féin’s frontbench spokesperson on children and youth affairs, said the plan outlined by the Government this week will not be enough to save many childcare centres in Kilkenny and across the country from closure.
Deputy Funchion (pictured below) said: “If we are to reopen the economy, then parents returning to work need to be able to access affordable childcare in a way that is safe for staff and children alike. This requires an investment from the government beyond small capital grants and the paying a proportion of the wages of some childcare workers until the end of August.
“The reality is that without proper support, many childcare providers will be forced to either close their doors in September or we will see a situation where there is a massive hike in fees for parents. This is unacceptable.
“The reality is that many families will be unable to afford the exorbitant childcare costs they have faced for the last number of years without meaningful investment.”
Deputy Funchion said her party is calling for childcare workers to remain on the temporary wage subsidy childcare scheme and for temporary assistance to childcare providers to be maintained to help cover bills at a time of reduced capacity.
She said this would be an opt-in scheme and would keep 27,000 workers in employment and “ensure that childcare providers can remain open and reduce childcare fees to parents by up to two thirds”.
The Kilkenny TD also called for paid maternity leave to be extended from six to nine months for mothers whose maternity benefit claim expires during the pandemic – if they wish to avail of it.
Deputy Funchion also wants parents who cannot return to work because of the unavailability of childcare to be entitled to take parental leave, which she said “would allow them to keep their job and receive income support from the State until they can return to work”.