Press Statement, 28/01/2016: Health Committee report on Childcare recognises need for affordable, accessible and high quality early years sector
Start Strong has responded to the publication today of the Report on Affordable and Quality Childcare by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children.
Director of Start Strong, Ms Ciairín de Buis, has welcomed the report for recognising the need for high quality, affordability and accessibility in children’s early years services, and laying the foundations for a clear plan of investment in childcare and family leave for the next Government.
Ms de Buis said:
“While coming in the final days of the current Government, the publication today of the Report on Affordable and Quality Childcare is notable in its long-term approach to addressing early years in Ireland. The fact that it has been authored by a cross-party Committee only goes to strengthen its findings.
“For too long childcare in this country has been dominated by three crises – quality, affordability and accessibility. Despite Irish parents paying some of the highest costs in the world for childcare – up to 40% of wages, according to the OECD – this is no guarantee of standards of care. Quality in childcare can vary hugely, as evidenced in the RTE investigative documentary ‘A Breach of Trust’. Since then, little has been done to build a quality-driven early years system.
“I am pleased to see that the Committee calls for increased state subsidies in the future to make childcare more affordable. As the report notes, such a funding model has been proven to be far more effective at ensuring quality than demand-side measures such as tax credits.
“It is also worth noting that the report calls for the regulation of all paid non-relative childminders, regardless of the number of children they have in their care. Start Strong believes this is crucial to ensure all children are equally provided with quality care.”
Ms de Buis added:
“In May 2015, as Director of Start Strong, I was pleased to be given the opportunity to make a submission to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children, where I outlined Start Strong’s approach to ensuring all young children can get the best possible start in life. I am pleased that the Committee took heed of our calls for putting children’s interests first in the designing of new childcare policy.
“However, an early years model like the one presented in this report will need significant investment. The Committee rightly points to Ireland’s poor record when it comes to investing in childcare. Ireland currently invests less than 0.2% GDP on early years services. The OECD average is 0.8% GDP, while the recommended UNICEF benchmark is 1% GDP.
“With a General Election around the corner, we call on the next Government to commit to reaching the OECD average investment level by 2021, focusing funding on ensuring affordable services that are of high quality and accessible to all. As part of our Early Years #GE16 Campaign, we call on all election candidates to sign our Promise to Children, which includes a commitment to make early years a priority if elected by increasing investment to ensure affordable, accessible, quality early years services and by continuing to strengthen family leave."
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About Start Strong
- Start Strong is a coalition of organisations and individuals seeking to advance children’s early care and education in Ireland.
- Early Years care and education means the care and education of children in their early years, from their first months to the compulsory school starting age of 6 years old.
- For more information on our Early Years #GE16 Campaign, follow #EarlyYears #GE16 on social media and visit our website: startstrong.ie.
- Read the Early Years Promise to Children.