Increased childcare subsidies will make services more affordable
Childhood Services Ireland (CSI), the Ibec group that represents childcare providers across the country, has said that the increase in childcare subsidies from €0.50c per hour to €1.40 per hour is a monumental leap forward and will go a long way in making childcare more affordable for many families. However, it says that more critical investment and reforms to planning are required in order to meet increasing capacity constraints and staffing challenges nationally.
CSI said that most childcare services are at maximum capacity already with waiting lists for childcare places at 24 months or longer, despite increased investment in the sector in recent times. For example, to secure a childcare place before maternity leave ends, a parent must apply to be on a waiting list long before the child is even conceived. Improving the cost of childcare is certainly welcome but makes no sense if Government does nothing to increase the number of childcare places simultaneously.
A long overdue overhaul of the planning system for childcare is needed to make sure childcare facilities are built where they are needed, are the requisite size, and are fit for purpose. With changing lifestyles and work patterns, more flexible and accessible childcare is needed that meets parents’ needs in the modern working world.
With staffing shortages at critical levels resulting in the stunted growth of the sector, an apprenticeship scheme for the childcare sector would open the door to many competent and capable individuals who are not in a position to undertake full-time study by providing an alternative entry route into the workforce that allows people earn a living while they study.