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Press Statement, 11/02/2016: Fianna Fáil GE16 childcare policy: tax credits will fail to ensure quality, affordable care

Start Strong – a coalition group campaigning to improve government policy on early years in Ireland – has responded to the launch this morning of Fianna Fáil’s General Election Manifesto, stating that its proposed childcare policies don’t ensure our country’s young children get the best possible start in life.

CEO of Start Strong, Ms Ciairín de Buis, described the party’s policies in childcare as failing to address quality, and misguided in opting for tax credits as a means of delivering affordable childcare.

Fianna FáilMs de Buis said:

“Early years care and education in Ireland is suffering a crisis of quality, affordability and accessibility. For the next Government to truly address childcare, they must tackle each of these three areas with a unified approach”

“Unfortunately, Fianna Fáil’s direction in addressing Ireland’s early years sector is misguided. The introduction of tax credits for parents is simplistic, and will have zero effect on the quality of care our young children will receive.

“International evidence shows that poor quality childcare can harm children. High quality early education, however, can be of huge benefit – not just to the child, but to the economy as a whole, improving long-term educational and career prospects.

“Neither are tax credits a guarantee of reduced costs for parents. International evidence shows that childcare services have used such credits as an opportunity to increase their fees. Start Strong believes tax credits are unlikely to have any real long-term impact on costs and could, in fact, drive costs to parents up further.

“Research from the OECD shows that the best way to make ‘childcare’ both affordable and high quality is to directly subsidise places in early year services, and tie that funding to quality. We need to learn from other countries and not repeat their mistakes.

Ms de Buis added:

“On a positive note, we welcome Fianna Fáil’s proposals to reform free pre-school provision. Childcare professionals should be recognised as professionals, with the working terms and conditions that go with that. Fianna Fáil’s proposals would be a step towards professionalization, albeit limited.

“Similarly, we welcome their proposal to increase maternity leave as a step towards allowing a parent to be at home for the first year of their child’s life. However, it is the time from 6 months on that should be ‘shareable’ rather than the existing maternity leave if we are to do best by babies.”

“Whoever is in the next government needs to see the long-term benefits of investing in early years. We call on all election candidates to sign our Early Years #GE16 Promise to Children on earlyyears.ie, 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.”

#EarlyYears #GE16 | Follow us on Twitter @StartStrongIrl | Like us on Facebook facebook.com/StartStrongIreland.

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.