Childcare sector issues stark subsidy warning
Childcare providers have warned they need a major increase in Government subventions of potentially up to €3,000 per child if sustainable services are to be provided for Irish families.
The stark Early Childhood Ireland (ECI) warning will be a major headache for the Government, with ambitious childcare plans the source of major Cabinet wrangling and tensions.
Children's Minister Katherine Zappone is battling for funding for her childcare programme, with Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Paschal Donohoe and Finance Minister Michael Noonan wary of the spiralling costs involved. Ms Zappone has also come under pressure to ensure middle-income earners are covered by the proposals.
The childcare industry warned it is facing a crisis of sustainability and can only achieve Government childcare provision targets with better State subsidies.
Ms Zappone is already at loggerheads with ministers Donohoe and Noonan over the cost of expanding childcare provision. She admitted to the Irish Independent last week that expanded childcare supports was a key element of her Government backing.
"If there isn't (a major increase in spending)… I'm not going to be a happy minister," she warned.
The debate revolves around a childcare subsidy which could amount to almost €3,000 per child.
ECI chief executive Teresa Heeney said that Government plans to introduce expanded childcare provisions are nonsensical under current funding models.
"The negative impact of inadequate State subsidies in maintaining the low pay in the sector must be recognised and tackled, otherwise we won't have a sector to implement the new childcare scheme under consideration," she said.