Following a briefing with stakeholders today (Thurs 23 July) on the report on childcare and school age care, the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) says that without a Government commitment to funding, outcomes for children and parents will not improve.
“While the report contains much to welcome; extending paid parental leave, improving coverage to the free Pre-School scheme and simplifying the various early years and school age programmes into a single subsidy scheme, there is as yet no clarity as to how these critical reforms will be funded,” says Audry Deane SVP Social Justice & Policy Officer.
The Report of the Inter-Departmental Working Group: Future Investment in Childcare and School Age Care is an important report and is very welcome. It addresses the critical issues of affordability, access and quality but a clear road map, which prioritises what needs to happen, in what sequence, and how it is going to be paid for is still required, says SVP.
Ireland lags behind other developed countries in standards of early years care and in the level of investment in the sector (spending here is just 0.2% of GDP while the OECD average is (0.8%). Quality standards vary, provision is patchy and a market model dominates in Ireland while After School Care is unregulated and under-developed. The shortfall in both early years care and After School Care cause problems for many working parents.
“SVP knows that disadvantaged children benefit the most from good quality early years and after school care.” said Audry Deane. "Our members tell us the disheartening stories of lone parents having to give up training or work as they cannot get access to, or afford the cost of care for their school age children, she said.
“SVP believes that our children's future wellbeing should not be at the mercy of pre-budget negotiations and trade-offs. The stakes are too high. Cross Government and all party support for the implementation of this report is needed to guarantee its delivery for the benefit of children and working parents alike," said Ms Deane.