Unite calls for development of National Childcare Strategy
October 12th: Unite today extended a cautious welcome to the childcare package announced in yesterday’s Budget, but warned against a continuing reliance on a market-based model. Commenting, Regional Equalities Officer Taryn Trainor expressed concern that the extra money paid to providers would result in higher fees. Ms Trainor also called for the development of a National Childcare Strategy focused not only on the needs of children and families, but also on the needs of those – mainly women – who work in the sector.
“Yesterday’s announcement is a welcome recognition by the Government – and in particular Minister Zappone – of Ireland’s childcare crisis. It hopefully represents the first step on the road to developing a publicly subsidised model of childcare.
“In particular, Unite welcomes the fact that four subsidy programmes have now been rationalised into one, and that the subsidy is being paid to the provider. However, investment and wage pressures mean that the subsidy may drive up prices, cancelling out much of the benefit.
“By the same token, these measures, welcome as they are, will not do anything to increase supply, improve the quality of childcare or raise the wages and working conditions of those providing it.
“Unite are also concerned that the measures will do little to increase supply, particularly in low or average income areas.
“Childcare is an essential public service and, as such should be driven by publicly provided facilities augmented by non-profit providers. Facilities should be staffed by qualified workers earning a decent wage. Childcare should be good – and childcare workers should have good jobs.
“Minister Zappone has made a welcome start. Now, I would urge her to engage with all stakeholders to develop a National Childcare strategy focussed on the needs of children, families and those who work in the sector”, Ms Trainor concluded.