Sunday 22 September 2019

Extra funding for childcare providers - but staffing fears unaddressed


Boost: Katherine Zappone is to extend the care scheme
Boost: Katherine Zappone is to extend the care scheme
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

A BOOST in funding for childcare providers is to be unveiled today amid concerns that the under-pressure sector will struggle to meet the increased demand for créche services.

An expansion to the Affordable Childcare Scheme will see thousands of additional children brought into the scheme, but providers have raised concern about staffing and investment in the sector.

The Irish Independent understands that Children's Minister Katherine Zappone is to detail how the remainder of the additional funding will be used today.

It is expected to include an increase of €2m for capital grant support in the hope of providing additional places.

Separately there will be an increase of €1.4m to the programme support payment, paid to providers who partake in the department's childcare schemes.

A team is also to be set up to help register childminders with Tusla to ensure that they meet the standards required to qualify as a provider on the scheme.

Trade Union Siptu accused the Government of failing to address the staffing crisis in the sector following the delivery of the Budget by Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe.

Organiser Darragh O'Connor described the measures as a "token" gesture which failed to deliver on the Government's stated ambitions on childcare.

"Budget 2019 is ultimately a missed opportunity to deliver for educators and providers," he said.

"The childcare sector is in the middle of a staffing crisis.

"This Budget fails to recognise and reward workers in the sector and will do nothing to alleviate this crisis. Low levels of Government investment mean that qualified Early Years educators earn just €10.88 per hour."

Early Childhood Ireland also called for more supports to ensure providers can deliver on the "considerable administrative burden entailed in delivering Government-funded childcare schemes".

Irish Independent

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