A Fine Gael Senator has rubbished Sinn Féin’s latest proposals for reforming the childcare sector as disingenuous kite flying.
Senator Mary Seery Kearney said Sinn Féin’s Private Members’ Motion on Tuesday undermines Fine Gael’s commitment to increased investment in the area.
Senator Seery Kearney said: “The Government, both the current and past, has demonstrated a strong commitment to the strengthening of the childcare sector.
“We are all acutely aware of the vital role childcare plays in our economy and accessibility to the workplace, as well as the cost burden on families.
“The Programme for Government has reiterated and committed itself to the acceleration of the funding provisions for childcare and to continue to make childcare affordable and accessible.
“There is a commitment to supporting a diversity of childcare provision in order to respect the choice of parents in how their childcare needs are met, both within the home or in a childcare setting.”
Senator Seery Kearney continued: “The Government has committed to the establishment of a new agency, Childcare Ireland, to assist in the expansion of high-quality childcare in both community and private settings to ensure a universal standard of childcare provision affording every child the best advantage.
“In recognition of the professional standing of childcare practitioners, the Programme for Government has committed to establishing pathways to training and apprenticeship and the formation of a joint labour committee with a view to the development of an Employment Regulation Order for Childcare.
“All of this will help to support and reward the professionals who work in this sector, making a career in childcare more attractive and supporting the retention of professionals within the vital sector.
Senator Seery Kearney concluded: “In response to the Covid-19 crisis, the Government made available the Restart Grant and Reopening Support Payment programme, as well as the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme to support childcare service providers.
“This programme remains open to childcare providers and the closing date for applications is Friday 28th August at 5pm.
“The Government recognises that the first five years have a fundamental impact on the type of person we become.
“A happy start in life with nurturing influences is vitally important to us as individuals. Fine Gael will continue to prioritise this vital sector.”