Sinn Féin Major Childcare Sector Reform

Sinn Féin this week launched proposed childcare sector reform that will cut the cost for parents by two thirds, ensure childcare workers receive a living wage, and keep crèche doors open.

Key proposals include taking on the wages of the sector at a cost of €620 million, increasing the pay of childcare workers to the living wage of €12.30 by investing €30 million, and keeping crèche doors open by introducing a sustainability fund of €124 million for childcare providers.

This will positively impact the over 125 facilities and thousands of early years educators in Mayo.

Childcare fees are too high and wages are too low. That is the reality that we hear daily from parents and workers in the childcare sector.

Families need affordable and reliable childcare. Prolonged underinvestment by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael has led to Ireland sleepwalking into a privately-run and expensive system that cripples ordinary working families.

We know that parents feel let down by the current system. Many women and some men are locked out of the workplace because childcare fees are too high.

Covid-19 has added considerable additional strain and challenges, but it also presents us with an opportunity to completely overhaul the current broken childcare system.  

The reality is that there can be no economic recovery without a childcare system that works for all.

Sinn Féin is prioritising childcare in our budget proposals, committing to cutting the costs of childcare by one third in 2021 and by the same amount again in 2022, prioritising measures to keep creche doors open and providing a living wage to childcare workers.”

NOTES:

Sinn Fein proposes a three-step plan to tackle a sector in crisis:

WAGES: We will pay the wages, with an immediate pay increase to the living wage.

Workers in childcare are some of highest qualified professionals but are paid some of the lowest wages of any sector, with many existing on minimum wage. The state should take on the wage bill of childcare workers. Workers deserve well-paid, secure careers.

Sinn Fein proposes over two budgets investing 620 million to cover 100% of wages of staff and an additional 30 million to improve pay ensuring that, with an immediate pay increase to the Living Wage.

PROVIDERS: We will fund the providers with the introduction of a Sustainability and Capacity Fund of 124 million.  

The existing sustainability fund for providers is €2 million. Sinn Fein have long advocated for an adequately resourced sustainability fund to ensure all childcare providers are able to remain open and viable.

We propose to introduce over to two budgets a Sustainability and Capacity fund of 124 million for providers with payments averaging 20% of wages costs.

The net cost of the above measures for the wage bill, living wage and sustainability fund in 2021 is €70 million (€150.5 million in first full year).

The first step in dealing with capacity in the sector is to stem the tide of childcare facility closures. Currently there is no desire for anyone to open a facility as there isn’t even a guarantee of a wage in the current system. We believe that our proposals, specifically the Sustainability and Capacity Fund will make it more attractive for smaller providers to open facilities.

PARENTS: We will reduce parents fees by two thirds.

Parents deserve high-quality, accessible and affordable childcare as universally enjoyed by many of their European counterparts.

We propose to reduce fees for parents by two thirds starting with a reduction of one third in 2021.