Press release, 04/07/2014: Childcare subsidies should be linked to quality, says Start Strong
Dublin July 7th – Government funding of early care and education should be increased and made conditional on quality standards being met, it has been recommended.
Start Strong - a coalition of organisations and individuals seeking to advance children’s early care and education in Ireland - said today that Government action is needed to reduce costs to parents and ensure better quality standards in early care and education services.
“Parents here pay some of the highest costs in the world for childcare” says Ciairin de Buis, Director of Start Strong. “But as we know from the RTE Prime Time programme, A breach of trust, high-costs are no guarantee of high-quality.” The programme, which was broadcast last year, showed shocking scenes of children been mistreated and caused a public outcry.
“Government action is certainly needed to reduce costs to parents. However, the issue of quality cannot be ignored either. Children can be harmed from low quality services. The Government has a duty to ensure high standards are in place.”
Review of funding schemes
The Department of Children and Youth Affairs is currently carrying out a review of its funding schemes for early care and education. Start Strong has just published its submission, in which it sets out detailed policy proposals on how the Government can reduce costs to parents and raise quality standards.
“Our submission shows how we can achieve a ‘double dividend’ of childcare that’s affordable and high quality. By directly subsidising places in services so that fees are lower or fully covered (as already happens in schools and the Free Pre-School Year) and making the subsidies conditional on quality standards being met, we can make services more affordable and at the same time raise quality standards” said Ms de Buis.
Currently service providers continue to receive Government funding, such as for the Free Pre-School Year, regardless of the quality of care they are providing.
The agency is also advising against using tax credits to reduce costs to parents. “While introducing tax credits may in the short-term help reduce the cost of childcare to some parents, it won’t lead to any improvement in quality and won’t help the most disadvantaged, such as those on very low pay.” added Ms de Buis.
For more information please contact Tressan McCambridge, Communications Officer, Start Strong - 087 295 9344 or Ciairín de Buis, Director, Start Strong - 087 1207 103
Read our policy brief, "The Double Dividend: childcare that's affordable and high quality"
We also have a short leaflet which outlines the key points.