Wednesday 18 September 2019

Childcare workers cannot make living wage, but charges to parents continue to spiral - Dáil told

Pearse Doherty. Photo: Tom Burke
Pearse Doherty. Photo: Tom Burke
John Downing

John Downing

Childcare costs are increasing by some €15 per week – but qualified childcare workers are quitting because they cannot make ends meet, Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty has said.

Mr Doherty told the Dáil that Ireland now has the highest cost of childcare in the developed world. He said costs averaging over €700 per month amounted to a “second mortgage.”

“For some families it makes more sense for one parent to opt out of the workforce,” the Sinn Féin deputy leader said. He said this was unfair and that in practise  women were being driven out of the workplace.

Mr Doherty added that the childcare sector was now in crisis with many qualified workers being forced to seek other work because they could not make a living wage. He said there was an urgent need for a childcare sector wage agreement to ensure fairness for workers and continuity of high-quality care.

He added that good quality child care benefitted children both socially and academically, and was also of benefit to society at large.

Replying for Government, Tánaiste Simon Coveney said Ireland had a poor record in childcare provision up to recent times.  But he argued that due to huge investment in recent years things were now improving.

Mr Coveney said State spending on childcare had gone from €265m to €574m over the last four Budgets and subsidised child care was now going to 200,000 children.

The Tánaiste acknowledged that more needed to be done and he said that the Government had plans to do that.

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