Social Democrats TD for Wicklow, Deputy Jennifer Whitmore has today spoken on the recent developments in Core Funding for Services for Early Years Education. Whitmore made the comments following some meetings with childcare providers across Wicklow and in response to emails she had been receiving from providers on the same issue over recent weeks.
Whitmore said: “Over the last couple of years, Government has developed a new funding model for the early years and childcare sector that was intended to reduce the burden of costs on parents and address the issues around pay and conditions for staff. It was a more targeted approach that was to enable providers to attract higher levels of funding given higher staffing requirements determined on the regulatory ratios for care for babies and toddlers.”
“While efforts to reduce costs for parents, and to improve staff conditions, are to be welcomed, I believe that there have been unintended consequences from this policy change that need to be examined and addressed. The feedback I have been receiving from providers is that this ‘one-size fits all’ model is causing significant difficulties for those small, sessional ECCE providers, who already operate on a shoestring. These are providers that are operated and owned by one or two individuals, and only have a small number of children, for whom they provide a morning ECCE service. In particular, the high administrative burden placed on these very small operators is putting them under great stress, and may result in some of the smaller services having to reconsider whether they can continue to operate.”
“Parents want choice when it comes to their childcare and early education options. Each child and family is different and has different needs. The unintended consequence of this policy change may mean that we see less and less of the small providers, which I feel would be a huge loss to the sector. As a parent, I wanted a small, family-like ECCE for my children. Unfortunately, this may not be as available an option going forward for parents, unless government rethink their approach. I will bring these concerns to the Minister and the Department of Children in the hope that they will address the key issues as expressed to me by Wicklow’s providers.”