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Childcare supply must be boosted nationwide to help families – Currie

6th April 2024 - Emer Currie

Childcare supply must be boosted nationwide by both changes to the planning system and access to subsidies for childminding, Fine Gael Senator Emer Currie has said.

Up to 2,000 Fine Gael members attended the 82nd Fine Gael Ard Fheis at University of Galway, where motions on the Best Start for Every Child and our commitment to healthy development, security and equality of opportunity were debated.

Speaking after the Ard Fheis, Senator Currie said: “Fine Gael over the last 13 years has delivered for young families in areas like Paternity Leave and Parents Benefit, GP visit cards, cost of living supports, and the introduction of rights in relation to flexible and remote work.

“Fine Gael in Government has cut childcare costs by 25%, resulting in an average reduction of €1,200 per child per year to be increased by a further 25% in September of this year.

“This will see an overall reduction of 50% over what families paid in 2022, with over 155,000 children benefitting from the National Childcare Scheme.

“But we need to do more, especially in relation to childcare supply in local communities across the country and access to subsidies for childminding.

“We need robust and effective forward planning for childcare spaces. Planning guidelines from 2001 aim to link new development with childcare supply, but too many gaps and loopholes in the planning system mean delivery has not kept pace with the growth in housing.

“One childcare facility per 75 dwellings is recommended, but in Dublin West for instance we haven’t seen anything like that for the approximately 4,000 new homes built in the last five years. Some childcare units built according to these guidelines are lying empty in areas where providers and parents are crying out for premises.

“Having engaged with local councillors in Dublin I have produced a policy paper on this issue which I hope to present to Minister of State in Housing, Local Government and Heritage Kieran O’Donnell as part of his Department’s work on revising the planning guidelines.

“A public consultation on draft childminding regulations is also taking place until 2nd May, setting out minimum standards for anyone who provides childminding in their home and that should pave the way to the extension of childcare subsidies for parents.

“Children and families should always be at the centre of our party’s policy formation and today is an opportunity to focus on that,” Senator Currie concluded.

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