A Living Wage for childcare workers; affordability for parents; providing the sector with the respect and funding it deserves…these are the immediate Sinn Féin priorities for the Early Childhood Education and Care sector.
Sinn Féin recognises that the current system of childcare provision is broken and that it should be a public service. Investment into this sector needs to significantly increase year on year, working towards achieving a spend of at least 1% of GDP, as recommended by the early childhood stakeholders and UNICEF. It must be inclusive for children with additional needs, be regulated efficiently and deliver consistent quality.
We propose the introduction of a new scheme wherein direct financial support for all centre-based providers would increase year on year and by half a billion euro over the five-year term of Government. Over time, the state would take on the full operating costs of the service providers in the same manner it does for schools including the full wage and pension responsibilities of the workforce just as it does for teachers.
This increased investment would be accompanied by legislation containing a schedule of permissible fees. The financial support from the Exchequer would grow and the permissible fees shrink in parallel. Public funding would steadily replace fees for parents. Our vision for the decade is to deliver childcare as a public service free at the point of use and over the course of a single term of Government. Fees would be reduced by 66%.
This five-year programme of investment would commence by ensuring the entry level wage for childcare workers increases to the Living Wage, currently €12.30 per hour and implement pay scales for all staff which properly value childcare as a viable long-term career choice.
Read the Sinn Féin Manifesto for Change: “Giving workers & families a break”