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Childcare in ‘urgent need of reform to reduce costs’ says Laois TD


‘We have one of the most expensive childcare systems in the European Union’.

So says Laois TD Brian Stanley who was speaking on the issue in the Dail recently.

The Sinn Fein politician explained how parents in the Laois-Offaly constituency of Laois-Offaly tell him about the costs they are paying per month – which are often well in excess of €800 and in some cases over €1,000.

Deputy Stanley said: “I was involved in establishing and running Treo Nua in Portlaoise, where there is an excellent childcare facility.

“I have also dealt with some of the smaller providers in the constituency and heard about the struggles they are trying to manage in running their facilities.

“I urge the Government to be more cognisant of how to structure the fees and so on

“Childcare fees have become so expensive that they are basically equal to a second mortgage or second rent payment every month.”

Deputy Stanley then outlined Sinn Fein’s proposal to combat the issue.

He said: “We know the pressure that families are under. Sinn Féin has a plan to cut childcare costs and to give families the support they badly need.

“Fees and wages are the issues. We are hearing from parents that the standards of childcare are good. Our motion proposes to cut childcare fees by 66% over two years.

“It would also ensure that staff in the sector are paid at least a living wage. We are talking about staff who have level 5 and level 6 qualifications. They are entitled to a living wage.

“Wages in the sector need to be increased urgently. We understand that cannot be done by waving a magic wand, but these are highly qualified staff and that needs to be recognised.

“There is a drain from the sector and we are losing important learning and qualified staff we should not be losing. People are leaving the sector because of the issue of wages. That is what workers are telling me.

“We have put forward a detailed and fully costed policy to invest in childcare services, to support staff and providers, and to provide a good service at a much reduced cost to families.

“The Sinn Féin plan would see the Government take on part of the cost of the wages of childcare services and subsidise the fees for parents.

“That would be done on a phased basis, meaning that fees would be cut by 33% in each of the first two years of the scheme. It is a voluntary, opt-in system. Nobody would be forced to do anything.

“Delivering such a significant change to the childcare system would result in an initial spend of €276 million.

“We provided a fully costed alternative budget for this year, into which a lot of thought and research went. This investment can be made, and we have shown how. It is important to invest in children’s future.”

Deputy Stanley said that the government need to put families first.

He said: “We need to give families a much-needed break. They are already struggling with enormous cost of living issues, including sky-high energy bills, fuel costs, transport costs and the price of rent and groceries.

“The cost of everything is going sky high. In some cases, that state of affairs is being exploited. Some businesses do not waste a good crisis.

“Sinn Féin wants to deliver real change to society and to help families.

“Childcare is in urgent need of reform and we are calling on all other parties to support this costed policy.”

SEE ALSO – Laois to host World Ploughing Contest later this year after venue switched following Russian invasion of Ukraine

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.