Government ‘short-termism’ is crippling childcare providers and failing families
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- Early Childhood Ireland says one-month extension of the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme is the latest example of piecemeal arrangements-
After decades of uncertainty, young children deserve more than the short-termism approach of this Government. That’s according to Early Childhood Ireland, the leading organisation in the early years sector, which is calling for a 5-year plan for childcare.
Early Childhood Ireland, which supports 3,900 childcare members nationwide, who – in turn – support more than 120,000 children and their families, has called on Government to make Budget 2022 ‘The Childcare Budget’ by meeting their commitment in the national early years strategy, First 5, to double investment in childcare by 2028 – and by publishing a coherent plan to achieve this.
The organisation also says that the delayed announcement on the future of the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme, originally expected before the end of August, and which has only been extended by one month, is just the latest example of a short-termism which is leaving employers and families with desperate uncertainty for the medium to long-term future.
The bespoke Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme, introduced by the Government in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 crisis, currently supports a significant per cent of salaries in childcare settings.
Commenting today, Frances Byrne, Director of Policy with Early Childhood Ireland, said: “We welcomed the introduction of specific supports for childcare providers at the outset of the COVID-19 crisis not only as a lifeline for employers and staff, but also as a long-overdue recognition by Government that our sector is essential yet also, chronically under-funded.
“The bespoke Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme continues to keep our sector afloat, even as the rest of society is showing signs of recovery. Childcare providers have been living with uncertainty and insecurity for too long, as have the sector’s 30,000 staff and the families they serve. Even now, the Government announce extensions to the scheme at such short notice that employers cannot be certain of how they can pay their staff the following month.
“The Government has committed to establishing a multi-annual funding and reform plan for the childcare sector, which values early years and after-school care as much as primary and secondary education. We must see the roadmap for this plan published by Government as part of Budget 2022 next week because at present were are in a very stark scenario where expecting parents are putting as-yet-unnamed children on waiting lists while crèche operators can’t be certain whether they will still be in a position to offer a place by the time that child is born.”
“Ireland is a proud member of the EU, and Irish children deserve the same quality and consistency of care and education as is available in other Member States. Instead, we languish shamelessly at the bottom of the international investment league. The government has a 5-year window to change this. Budget 2022 must provide the first steps to address historical under-investment in this essential public service.”