Kilkenny TD unveils plans to ‘fix our broken childcare sector’
A Kilkenny TD has unveiled her plans to tackle the crisis in our childcare sector.
Deputy Kathleen Funchion, who is Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on children and disability, launched childcare proposals she said will cut the cost for parents by two thirds, ensure childcare workers receive a living wage, and keep creche doors open.
Her key proposals include taking on the wages of the sector at a cost of €620 million, increasing the pay of childcare workers to the living wage of €12.30 by investing €30 million, and keeping creche doors open by introducing a sustainability fund of €124 million for childcare providers.
The local poll topper and mother-of-two said her party’s vision for the childcare sector would put children’s interests front and centre “by prioritising quality, by improving the working conditions for staff, while at the same time cutting childcare costs for parents”.
Deputy Funchion said: “Long before Covid-19, we already had a broken childcare model that completely failed the needs of children, parents and childcare professionals.
“Childcare fees are too high and wages are too low. Those are the stark realities that we hear daily from parents and workers in the childcare sector.
“I have undertaken the ‘My Childcare Story’ campaign to show that there are alternatives and that continuing to do nothing is not an option.”
The Kilkenny TD hit out at what she described as “prolonged underinvestment” in the sector by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael-led governments.
She said this has led to “Ireland sleepwalking into a privately-run and expensive system that cripples ordinary working families”. Deputy Funchion added: “We know that parents feel let down by the current system. Many women are locked out of the workplace because childcare fees are too high.”
The Kilkenny-Carlow TD acknowledged Covid-19 has added “considerable additional strain and challenges”, but she argues the pandemic also “presents us with an opportunity to completely overhaul the current broken childcare system”.
She added: “The reality is that there can be no economic recovery without a childcare system that works for all.
That is why Sinn Féin is prioritising childcare in our budget proposals for 2021. That is why we are committing to cutting the costs of childcare by one third in 2021. That is why we are prioritising measures to keep creche doors open and provide a living wage to childcare workers. That is why we are calling on Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to step up and make a real difference by investing in childcare in Budget 2021.”
Under Sinn Féin’s plan to reform the childcare sector, the party said it would:
*Cut the costs of childcare for parents by two thirds over the course of just two budgets, saying it would achieve this “by taking on the wages of the sector at a cost of €620 million”;
*Create a living wage for childcare workers by “immediately” increasing the pay of childcare workers to the living wage of €12.30 by investing a further €30 million;
*Keep creche doors open by introducing a sustainability fund of €124 million for childcare providers.
Deputy Funchion concluded by saying: “We need an economic recovery that transforms society for the better – fixing our broken childcare sector is key to that.”