SINN FÉIN spokesperson on Children and Youth Affairs Kathleen Funchion TD has said that there will be huge disappointment at the childcare plan brought forward by the government.
“If we are to re-open the economy, then parents returning to work need to be able to access affordable childcare in a way that is safe for staff and children alike,” she told The Kilkenny Observer.
“This requires an investment from the government beyond small capital grants and the paying a proportion of the wages of some childcare workers until the end of August.
“The reality is that without proper support, many childcare providers will be forced to close their doors in September or we will see a situation where there is a massive hike in fees for parents. This is unacceptable.
“The reality is that many families will be unable to afford the exorbitant childcare costs they have faced for the last number of years without meaningful investment.
“Sinn Féin is calling for childcare workers to remain on the temporary wage subsidy childcare scheme and for temporary assistance to childcare providers to be maintained to help cover bills at a time of reduced capacity.
“This would be an opt-in scheme and would keep 27,000 workers in employment, ensure that childcare providers can remain open and reduce childcare fees to parents by up to two thirds.
“Paid maternity leave to be extended from six to nine months for mothers whose maternity benefit claim expires during the pandemic – if they wish to avail of it.
“Parents who can’t go back to work due to the unavailability of childcare should be entitled to take parental leave which would allow them to keep their jobs and receive income support from the State until they can return to work.
“Parents who currently can’t get back to work due to lack of childcare are coming under pressure from some employers according to FLAC. This matter is urgent.”