Thursday 27 October 2016

Families urgently need State help with childcare

Published 24/09/2016 | 02:30

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar
Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar

The cost of childcare in Ireland is taking a severe toll on families. As Tanya Ward, writing in this newspaper this week, pointed out: "Parenting, arguably the hardest job in the world, is undoubtedly made all the more stressful when trying desperately to make ends meet."

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The Children's Rights Alliance chief underscored the urgency of building a solid foundation for all of our children for the future.

At this time of the year, the petitioning for Budget increases becomes the priority for all ministers, but the case for children could hardly be more pressing. Childcare costs are akin to a second mortgage for young couples and some sort of State help is vital. Currently, Children's Minister Katherine Zappone is looking at preparing a package to help poorer families.

But as Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar rightly pointed out yesterday, families in the middle are just as much in need of help. He also correctly stated these are the families whom are often overlooked and are left feeling that they are the ones who pay all the taxes but get none of the benefits; none of the assistance from the State that they deserve. But it should not be a case of helping out the low-income families or those in the middle, as both are in acute need of support.

Ireland's childcare costs are the highest in the OECD.

Investing in our children guarantees them a better future. In the first five years of life, their brains develop faster than at any other time. Subsidised childcare is also a proven way to help parents secure jobs, so it's a win-win situation for all.

Irish Independent

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