Friday, November 11, 2022

By Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

Hundreds of childcare providers across the country are expected to close in protest at what they say is an inadequate funding model, leaving thousands of parents without childcare provision.

The providers say they have been marginalised by the new model, announced by the Government this year, which has not helped them pay mounting costs.

The Federation of Early Childhood Providers (FECP) said around 500 of its members funded through the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme will take part in Friday’s closures.

Providers said they feel they have no option but to take the action, with a possibility of “rolling” closures in the run-up to Christmas.

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman, who introduced the childcare funding model, said the protests are “unwarranted”, and that the first year of this model is “a first step”.

“I think it’s really disappointing that the closures are going ahead today and I believe that these closures are unwarranted,” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

“Government, and myself as minister, we’ve prioritised investment in childcare and Budget 2023 will see for the first time ever over €1 billion being spent on childcare.

“With that money, we’re looking to deliver for parents in terms of reduction in fees; we’re looking to deliver for the childcare staff; we’ve secured a pay agreement that will see 73 per cent of them get a pay increase; and in particular, we’re looking to deliver for providers of full-day childcare and providers who are working in ECCE only.

“This year we’re providing €259 million in core funding. It’s a massive increase in core funding.

Irish government cabinet meeting
Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman introduced the new childcare funding model. Photo: Niall Carson/PA

“That’s just the first year of core funding and that is recognising that there has been some very significant under-investment in childcare over decades in Ireland.

“And for ECCE-only services, the services were probably focusing on today; last year, between the higher capitation programme support payments, they would have gotten total 14 million.

“This year through core funding, they’ll be receiving 27 million, so a 13 million euro increase to the ECCE-only services.”

The minister said that, in the second year of the funding model, there will be “28 million more to support services”.

“I would ask that they withdraw the threat of the second day of closures later on this month because I think that’s unfair for parents, it’s unfair for the children who are impacted.”

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