1 February 2018
Government told childcare workers must not be left behind in affordable childcare reform
“In this centenary year celebrating women’s suffrage, Mná na hÉireann are still negotiating parity of esteem on the most basic equality issue – equal access to the workforce” - Carol Nolan TD.
Childcare workers must not be left behind in the plans to reform affordable childcare according to Sinn Féin Children and Youth Affairs spokesperson Denise Mitchel TD.
Childcare Support Bill, brought forward by Minister Katherine Zappone in the Dáil this week, is an important piece of legislation that would lay the foundations for quality, affordable and accessible childcare. This would make affordable childcare available to all who wish to avail of it.
The legislation has been broadly welcomed, but criticised for failing to hold any significant provisions for childcare workers.
Teachta Mitchell said the issue of pay and conditions for childcare workers “cannot be an afterthought”, and that, “if we want people who love working with children and have a real interest in educating our youngest minds, then we must pay them decent wages”.
Affordable childcare is widely seen as being essential for women's participation in the workforce and for improving the quality of early childhood development outcomes for children. A recently published report by the OECD showed that Ireland is lagging behind in the participation of Irish women in the workforce, and currently sits in 33rd position.
Meanwhile, according to a survey undertaken by Citrix it is estimated that over 3,000 Irish mothers are leaving the workforce annually due to the excessive costs of childcare, and it is costing Irish companies an estimated €68 million.
Sinn Féin spokesperson on rural and community affairs Carol Nolan TD also spoke on the Bill, highlighting the social and economic impact that a lack of affordable childcare is having on society.
Speaking in the Dáil the Offaly TD said; “In this centenary year celebrating women’s suffrage, Mná na hÉireann are still negotiating parity of esteem on the most basic equality issue – equal access to the workforce. It is time that childcare services are vested, alongside transport and technology, as a necessary element of economic infrastructure across the Island of Ireland.
"Labour market participation is not the only attainment indicator where Ireland is lagging behind. Vulnerable children, either those with intellectual or sensory disabilities; or children with special medical needs; are failed entirely in terms of equitable access to appropriate day-care and pre-school services.”
The Bill is an important step on the way to bringing Ireland in line with international best practice. Should the Bill pass, investment in early years care and education will mean more children are accessing affordable, quality services.
It will also mean that more women are facilitated to participate in the workforce both during the pre-school years and after commencement of Primary School.
While the Bill is only at second stage, Sinn Féin has confirmed that it will continue to lobby for fair pay and conditions for childcare workers in the sector.
Removing these obstacles to participation in work is long overdue and behoves all TDs and Senators to ensure access to optimum early-years education for our most vulnerable children.
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