Deputy Kathleen Funchion
Sinn Fein spokesperson on Children, Disability, Equality and Integration Kathleen Funchion TD has said her party’s vision for the childcare sector would put children’s interests front and centre by prioritising quality, improving the working conditions for staff and at the same time cutting childcare costs for parents.
“Problems with childcare didn’t just fall from the sky at the onset of this pandemic," the Carlow-Kilkenny TD said.
“Throughout the general election campaign at the start of the year, Sinn Féin made clear that we want to use the next decade to transform childcare into a fully fledged public service.
“Long before Covid-19, we already had a broken childcare model that completely failed the needs of children, parents and childcare professionals.
“Childcare fees are too high and wages are too low. Those are the stark realities that we hear daily from parents and workers in the childcare sector.
“I have undertaken the ‘My Childcare Story’ campaign to show that there are alternatives and that continuing to do nothing is not an option
“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 are locked out of the workplace because childcare fees are too high.
“Covid-19 has added considerable additional strain and challenges, but 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.
“That is why Sinn Féin is prioritising childcare in our budget proposals for 2021.
“That is why we are committing to cutting the costs of childcare by one third in 2021.
“That is why we are prioritising measures to keep creche doors open and provide a living wage to childcare workers.
“That is why we are calling on Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to step up and make a real difference by investing in childcare in Budget 2021," she continued.
The party has launched proposals to transform the childcare sector for workers and families. “Over two budgets, we would cut the costs of childcare for parents by two thirds," she said.
“We would do this by taking on the wages of the sector at a cost of €620 million, implementing legislation to ensure sustainability.
“We would create a living wage for childcare workers by immediately increasing the pay of childcare workers to the living wage of €12.30 by investing €30 million.
“We would keep creche doors open in these challenging times by introducing a sustainability fund of €124 million for childcare providers.
“We need an economic recovery that transforms society for the better - fixing our broken childcare sector is key to that," she added.