Childcare costs for parents halved in Sinn Féin Budget 2018 proposals – McDonald

Speaking at Sinn Féin’s Budget 2018 launch today Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald set out the party’s proposals to halve the cost of childcare for parents, increase wages for workers in the sector and provide additional supports for community providers.

The Dublin Central TD said:

“Rising childcare costs are putting undue financial pressure on many parents who are in effect paying out the equivalent of a second mortgage in monthly fees. Despite these increases in costs workers’ wages remain low and working conditions challenging across the sector. Sinn Féin’s Budget 2018 childcare proposals provide for an ambitious programme of investment that would reduce costs for parents whilst improving the quality of service delivery. Affordable quality childcare must be viewed through the prism of critical infrastructure as without it we cannot maximise the states workforce potential.

“Sinn Féin’s Budget 2018 document provides for a €2 per hour increase to the Universal Childcare Subsidy for children aged from 6 months up to 3 years old reducing childcare fees for parents by €420 per month per child in full-time childcare, which in effect halves the cost of childcare for these parents. In 2018 this proposal would cost €37m, and €116m in a full year. This measure is a step forward on the path to universal childcare provision with future budgets increasing and expanding investment.

“Childcare remains a low paid sector with staff working hard to maintain high standards of care for children. The average hourly rate for childcare workers is €10.79. Sinn Féin would establish a fund of €40.58m in Budget 2018 to provide for an hourly increase, on average, of €1 for a childcare sector wide pay agreement. By increasing the average hourly rate in line with the Living Wage this proposal would increase a full-time childcare workers annual salary by €2,000.

“Our proposals also provide for an additional €8m in 2018 for an increase in both the higher and lower capitation grants of €5 per child per week. This measure would support childcare providers and workers as well as parents. Capitation grants paid to ECCE programme creches and pre-schools are not sufficient to meet running costs and as a result parents are often asked to make a voluntary contribution. By also increasing the higher capitation grant Sinn Féin is supporting providers whose education and care is led by a Level 7 graduate.

“Community providers need additional supports in meeting the demands of new regulations. Sinn Féin would establish a Sustainability Fund of €3m for childcare providers to assist them in recruiting and retaining qualified staff and ensuring their businesses are sustainable for the long term.

“Sinn Féin recognises the import of the childcare sector not only to Ireland’s economy but also to the development and educational attainment of young children. We are ambitious for the sector and believe the state has an important role to play in supporting parents, children and providers alike.” CRIOCH