Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore has responded to Budget 2022 announcements by Government on childcare.
It was announced that €78m will be invested in the childcare sector in a return for freezing current childcare fees. New funding will not be in place until next September 2022.
Spokesperson for Children Deputy Whitmore said: “The current childcare system is not fit for purpose for families and childcare providers across Wicklow and the country.
“Already, costs are like a second mortgage for many and remain completely unaffordable for the average family. Governments past and present have failed to properly invest in this sector, and fees remain the highest in Europe as a result.
“I welcome additional funding being provided for the childcare sector, which will help alleviate some staffing concerns. However, the Government has ignored parents’ needs in this budget and by putting a cap on fees, they have essentially locked parents into unaffordable prices.
The additional funding being provided in the Budget is expected to help address staffing concerns in the childcare sector – however, Whitmore claims the Government has “ignored parents’ needs” by merelty capping fees.
“Childcare staff are still on unacceptably low wages so it’s important that low pay in the sector is addressed especially as many staff have flagged leaving the sector entirely and some providers also closing their doors.
“What parents in Wicklow really need is a clear pathway established not only to tackle chronic low pay in the sector, but also to indicate a reduction in fees over time for parents. We need a commitment from Government that they will significantly reduce childcare costs for families in Wicklow in the next few years.”