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  • Northside East

Department hits back at childcare scheme criticism

Friday, 7th September, 2018 8:00am
Department hits back at childcare scheme criticism

It has been claimed that parents won’t benefit from the funding increase for the ECCE scheme. PHOTO: BIGSTOCK

Department hits back at childcare scheme criticism

It has been claimed that parents won’t benefit from the funding increase for the ECCE scheme. PHOTO: BIGSTOCK

THE Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) has hit back at a Northside senator’s criticism that parents won’t benefit from its funding increase for a childcare scheme.

Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone recently announced a 7 percent increase in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme payments. 

However, Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee (FF) warned that the increase is being absorbed by childcare providers and claimed “parents are seeing no reduction to costs”.

“I have been contacted this month by many parents who have recently been informed by their childcare provider that their fees will increase for the forthcoming school year,” said Senator Clifford-Lee.

“The Minister seems to be under some illusion that these changes will pose a benefit; the increase announced is clearly being absorbed by childcare providers. Therefore, families are in no way better off.

"It had always been hoped that the overarching objective of the ECCE scheme was to reduce the cost to parents.

“Any notion that children, parents or even providers could benefit from these changes to the pre-school ECCE scheme is inaccurate.” 

Senator Clifford-Lee said the 7 percent increase in payments for ECCE received by childcare providers “means nothing whatsoever for parents”.

“They’re already expected to pay higher costs this September regardless,” she argued. 

"The increase in paperwork and administrative work has caused many operators to increase prices to pay or admin support, which undermines the entire basis of the scheme.

“They want to be able to provide the care to children, but they cannot deal with the increase in paperwork and administrative work.”

Senator Clifford-Lee, Fianna Fáil’s Seanad spokesperson on Justice, Children and Youth Affairs, added: “Rather than announce weightless changes, the Minister needs to put in place better support for those running crèches and community childcare facilities.”

The Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DYCA) said Minister Zappone has demonstrated a commitment to making childcare in Ireland more affordable, more accessible and higher quality. 

“The early years sector in Ireland has suffered from chronic under investment from successive governments over the past decades,” a DCYA spokesperson told Northside People. 

“Over the past three budgets, Minister Zappone has secured an increase of almost 80 percent in funding to the sector. 

“Last year this funding was directed at addressing the affordability of childcare; with a 50 percent increase in subsidies for families that need it most and a universal non means tested of over €1,000 per year for children under three. 

“These measures have benefitted the families of more than 80,000 children since their introduction in September. The 7 percent increase in capitation is a quality measure. 

“It is not intended to be reflected in the fees of parents. Rather, it is designed to recognise and support the delivery of high quality early years education by the dedicated staff working in the sector.” 

The spokesperson added: “It is the first such increase for childcare providers for a number of years and reflects the Minister's commitment to supporting better pay and conditions for workers in the sector.” 

Read the digital editions of the Dublin People Northside East, Northside West & Southside here