There is fast becoming a childcare crisis in this country.
Budget 2019 has recently been announced. There is an expansion to the Affordable Childcare Scheme. This will benefit some parents but seems to be geared towards low income families. However, only Tusla registered providers will be able to offer this. There has been some funding put aside to help childminders register with Tusla.
What the Budget has failed to do is increase staff wages or payments that the providers receive directly from the Government.
The reason childcare is so expensive to parents is because the cost to providers to deliver the services are so high and have increased dramatically since the ECCE scheme started. Their income was cut, administration increased significantly, and their overheads climbed dramatically. Commercial rates and insurance are their biggest costs and rent/mortgage payments before staff wages, taxes etc.
The majority of providers and employees have campaigned tirelessly to gain better funding to the sector not just for their sake but for the children and their families also. Quality costs and unfortunately the government are not paying near to what it costs.
Personally when I had my second child I was going to give up my job. I didn’t think it was worth trying to pay for childcare, commute and work while trying to look after two small children. Like I’ve said before there’s only thirteen months between my two oldest children.
Then coming up to my maternity leave my boss said that we could work something out. We agreed that I’d work initially one day a week from home. Luckily my boss is flexible, and he didn’t want me to leave so he was willing to work around what I wanted. Gradually my days increased to two days and then the three days that I currently work. As I increased my days there was a need for me to work in the office, so I commute now one or two days a week.
It wouldn’t be worth my while to pay for childcare for the three of them, so on the days I’m at home my nearly two-year-old is with me. And on the days I am away my mother-in-law has her. I wouldn’t be able to work with the two older children here too, so they get minded outside the home. My mother-in-law wouldn’t be able to have them all especially since my father-in-law passed away earlier this year. My own parents live the other side of the country, so they can’t help.
Then on the other hand there are childcare workers and owners who aren’t getting enough money. The wonderful Montessori my daughter went to for two years (and my son for a year) closed its doors for good at the end of June. I’ve had many discussions with the owner about the reasons why. As a parent I think we need to be aware of these too:
Unfortunately, that is not the only facility that had to close recently and more will have to follow suit.
At present, Ireland currently invests just 0.2 per cent of gross domestic product in childcare. This is far behind the OECD average of 0.7 per cent.
The government have said that they are going to invest in childcare in the future. However, in my opinion, the budget seems to have approached this the wrong way around. Instead of introducing schemes for parents they should be increasing the funding directly to the provider. They could then decrease fees and increase wages.
Does this government has something against women? Childcare is a mainly female dominated industry. They aren’t being properly paid. It is the women that are usually forced to leave the workplace to care for their children.
If this underinvestment continues will we have any childcare facilities left? Will there be any childcare workers left? Will more and more women be forced to give up jobs and stay at home full time?