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Press release, 05/12/2013: Start Strong warns that Budget measures announced today will not achieve Minister Burton's aspiration for Scandinavian childcare

5 December 2012 - START STRONG WARNS THAT BUDGET MEASURES ANNOUNCED TODAY WILL NOT ACHIEVE MINISTER BURTON’S ASPIRATION FOR SCANDINAVIAN CHILDCARE

Start Strong – a coalition of organisations and individuals seeking to advance children’s early care and education in Ireland – has this evening warned that additional funding introduced in Budget 2013 for after-school childcare places for low-income families will not achieve Minister Burton’s aspiration for a Scandinavian model of childcare.

Start Strong’s Acting Director, Toby Wolfe, reacting to the Budget stated: “The retention of the Free Pre-School Year is positive, as is the €2.5 million allocated to continue and build on the work of the Prevention and Early Intervention Programme (PEIP). However, the Scandinavian childcare model that Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD, has called for has many elements: including a high level of investment, high quality services that are affordable to all and family-friendly policies that enable parents to combine work and care. The measures outlined in today’s Budget do not move toward this system and such short-term measures will delay any movement towards a Scandinavian childcare system in Ireland.

“By focusing solely on service provision for low-income families instead of moving towards a universal system, the measures introduced today may lead to a two-tier system of after-school care which is not a feature of the Scandinavian model.

“While we recognise that savings must be made, the cut to Child Benefit will push already stretched families into further hardship. The decision to make Maternity Benefit taxable will hit many parents at a time when they need additional support. Furthermore the allocation of €546 million for the Child and Family Support Agency represents a cut in funding allocated to this area in 2012 and is certain to limit the potential impact of the Agency before it becomes operational,” Toby Wolfe concluded.

Notes to Editor

On 18 April 2012, Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD, stated that she would only proceed with plans to reform the One Parent Family Payment by 2014/ 2015 if she got a ‘credible and bankable commitment’ by this year’s budget that the Government would put in place a system of childcare similar to that found in Scandinavian countries.

Detailed comparison of childcare systems in Ireland and Scandinavia is available in the joint Barnardos and Start Strong publication, Towards a Scandinavian Childcare System for 0-12 Year Olds in Ireland?

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Pat Montague, Montague Communications, 087-2549123

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