Increase Funding, Provision and Affordability of Services
- Extend the Early Childhood Care Scheme, the Universal Subsidy and the Affordable Childcare Scheme to make Childcare Genuinely Affordable. Childcare in Ireland begins too late, is too short and far too expensive. Most international evidence points to the fact that a child’s learning and development is fastest before the age of 3 years as it is from here that subsequent learning is shaped. Currently, children in Ireland only get 3 hours a day, 15 hours a week. This does not even cover most part-time employment and ceases when schools are not operating. It also distorts the childcare system as private operators gear their services around achieving these subsidies instead of making the service work for all children. People Before Profit would expand the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme to be available from 2 until children start primary school, increase the paid hours to 30 hours per week and increase it to cover 48 weeks of the year. We would also increase the capitation grant to make sure that parents only pay a maximum of 30% of the total cost of their children’s care.
- Conduct a quality audit across all early years’ services to provide baseline data for the implementation of National Early Years Strategy. In order to move towards well informed best practice, People Before Profit would conduct a quality review and publish a fully resourced rights-based National Early Years Strategy.
- Integrate care, education and after-school services by linking early care and education services, primary schools and after school services. There needs to be investment to integrate childcare and afterschool services. The provision of these services should not only promote children’s development but also fit in with parents working hours.
Improve Funding and Reduce Costs
- Move to a National Childcare Service Free at the point of use. People Before Profit used our Alternative Budget in 2019 to propose a National Childcare Service that would hire 25,000 childcare professionals and link them into current services. Once a quality audit is carried out, current services that are deemed best practice will be integrated into the new National Service. The new model should include aspects of the Scandinavian Model as this has been proven to achieve high educational attainment, low levels of child poverty, and high labour market access, including that of lone parents.
- Increase investment – move to 1% of GDP. The Republic of Ireland currently spends around 0.1% of GDP on childcare and development. People Before Profit would move immediately towards 0.8% and overtime get to 1% of GDP. This is necessary for a National Childcare System and is less than the amount spent in many Scandinavian countries.
- Better income supports. Many families in Ireland receive no financial assistance besides a universal child care payment (CCSU) of €20 euro per week. Under the Community Childcare Subvention Scheme (CCS), low income parents and those in training or education can avail of childcare at reduced rates. However, this subvention is only available to children attending participating community services. This inevitably means that some families miss out. They also work from a snapshot four-week period from mid-September meaning that if circumstances change they are not taken into account until the following year. People Before Profit would help parents in two ways – through better provision of services generally and through better targeted interventions for those families most in need.
- Targeted resources for single parent families. Single parent families are the most deprived in the country. Around 55% of children in one parent families suffer from deprivation, whilst the exorbitant cost of childcare means many parents cannot choose to work. People Before Profit would establish a fund to be accessed by parents of single parent families who want to work.
- Support migrant women. Migrant women may not have the informal networks that are often essential in providing childcare. People Before Profit is committed to making sure that the children of migrants have culturally appropriate and well-resourced childcare and development options.