Media Statement, 12/02/2015: Response to RTE Prime Time programme on the sustainability of our ‘childcare’ system
Dublin Feb 12th 2015 – In response to RTE’s Prime Time coverage of the sustainability of our ‘childcare’ system [on Thursday Feb 12th], Ciairín de Buis, Director of Start Strong – a coalition of organisations and individuals seeking to advance children’s early care and education in Ireland – said,
“‘Childcare’ services in Ireland are run as businesses. This is not in the best interests of children and results in variable quality and extremely high prices for parents”
She added, “To change this we need to recognise that early years services are providing a public service and should be funded accordingly.”
A recent report by Start Strong called, ‘Childcare’: Business or Profession? compared the Irish childcare market to that of other countries. It found that the best way to ensure early year services are of high quality AND affordable to parents is through Government investing directly in services, and linking that funding to quality standards being met.
Ciairin de Buis said, “Research shows that only high quality services benefit children. Poor quality services can be harmful and as we know from the Prime Time undercover documentary, A Breach of Trust, the quality here is very variable. It’s not enough to just address the high prices to parents, we need to address the issue of quality as well”
The documentary aired in 2013 and showed distressing scenes of children being shouted at and manhandled.
Earlier this year, the Government set up an inter-departmental committee to develop proposals for more affordable 'childcare'. The committee is due to report with its recommendations in the summer.
Commenting on the new Government committee Ms de Buis said, “While we welcome the fact that a plan is being put in place, it must address both quality and affordability. We need firm commitment from Government to take action on this, not empty election promises.”
On the issues of low wages and poor working conditions in the sector, Ciairín de Buis said, “At the heart of this, is the need to recognise those working in early care and education as professionals. This means giving practitioners the qualifications, wages, working conditions and career development pathways and public esteem that characterise a profession.”
On the suggestion that tax credits be introduced to reduce the cost of ‘childcare’ to working parents, Ms de Buis said, “The problem with using tax credits is that they won’t do anything to improve the quality of care for our children. Nor will they do anything to help parents on very low incomes and what’s to stop some service providers simply increasing their prices wiping out any net benefit to parents.
She continued, “It’s far better to directly subsidise places in pre-school services and make that funding conditional on quality standards being met. That way you can reduce the cost to parents and ensure quality care for our children."
For more information please contact Tressan McCambridge 01 662 4021 / 087 295 9344 or Ms Ciairín de Buis 087 1207 103