Early Childhood Ireland will hold a consultation meeting in Longford Women’s Link next Tuesday, March 24 from 7 to 9pm.
It is one of a series of nationwide member consultation meetings, with investment in childcare high on the agenda.
New figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) show that a family with two children in Ireland spends 40% of the average wage to meet childcare costs, compared with the OECD average of just 12% and represents the highest cost of any of the OECD’s 34 members.
“This is a timely reminder that Ireland is way behind where we should be in terms of investment in the early childhood care and education sector and a topical debate against which to conduct our six regional member consultation meetings,” according to Teresa Heeney, CEO of Early Childhood Ireland.
Explaining the cost of childcare in Ireland, Teresa Heeney says that, “The labour intensive nature and the ratios of childcare professionals to children, as set in regulations, are the main reasons for the high cost but we’ve got to move the debate on from the cost of childcare to who pays. And in Ireland’s case the parents pay and it’s a struggle for many. The only support most of these coping parents get from Government is via one year free preschool covering 3 hours per day; and for low income parents there are a limited number of subsidized schemes. This is simply not enough. Many of our European partner countries are heavily subsidized by State and that’s what accounts for the real difference when comparing Ireland’s cost of childcare with the rest.”
Ms Heeney added, “A key strength of Early Childhood Ireland is our national membership base amongst crèches and preschools supporting over 110,000 young children and we must lead this debate on childcare costs and shift the focus to proper investment. Achieving a strong policy infrastructure and high quality services requires investment and cannot be done on a shoe string. A wise long term investment, particularly in times of austerity, is good for children, good for society and good for the economy.”
She concluded, “We believe there are significant benefits to our sector if we can agree a clear, simple message or Budget Call to which the sector and its stakeholders can align. We are presenting our strategy for the development of our 2015 Pre-Budget Submission at this time in an effort to engage with our members and discuss with other stakeholders in order to work towards a shared position.”
The meeting in Longford Women’s Link on Tuesday, March 24 is from 7 to 9pm.