Sinn Féin Dublin South West TD Seán Crowe has described the Childcare Plan unveiled by government as a huge disappointment, saying that it won’t deliver the necessary supports that are need for workers, parents, and the sector as a whole.

Teachta Crowe said:

“If we are ever to fully re-open the economy, parents returning to work need to be able to access affordable childcare in a way that is safe for staff and children alike. This will require investment from the government beyond one-off small capital grants or the paying of a proportion of the wages of some childcare workers until the end of August.

“Parents that won’t be able go back to work due to the unavailability of childcare should be given the option of taking parental leave which would allow them to keep their job and receive income support from the State until they can eventually return to work. We know that parents who currently can’t get back to work due to lack of childcare are coming under pressure from some employers. This matter is an issue that needs to be dealt with holistically and not in the piecemeal manner that is the current government’s approach.

“Without these supports, many childcare providers will be forced to either close their doors in September or we will see a situation where there is a massive hike in fees for parents. This is unacceptable and won’t deliver for parents or childcare workers.

“Sinn Féin believes that childcare workers need to remain on the temporary wage subsidy childcare scheme and for temporary assistance to childcare providers to be maintained in order to support them in covering bills, particularly at a time of reduced capacity. This could be an opt-in scheme and would keep an estimated 27,000 workers in employment, ensure that childcare providers can remain open, and reduce childcare fees to parents by up to two thirds.

“We also believe that paid maternity leave should be extended from six to nine months for mothers whose maternity benefit claim expires during the pandemic – again if they wish to avail of it.

“Childcare is a fundamental service that should have been hardwired into the public health strategy to ease the lockdown as it is essential for many parents as they return to work. Workers and their families are rapidly losing confidence in the government’s ability to grasp this fundamental fact. The latest Childcare Plan unveiled by this government is a huge disappointment as it doesn’t deliver the necessary support that is needed for workers, parents, and the sector.”