News & Media

Clear plan needed on reopening of childcare sector

17 May 2020

Statement by Seán Sherlock TD
Parliamentary Party Chair and Spokesperson on Social Protection, Community and Rural Development and the Islands; Agriculture and the Marine

Labour Party spokesperson on Children, Seán Sherlock TD, has called for a clear and coherent plan for the reopening of the childcare sector.

It comes as the first phase of the easing of restrictions begins tomorrow.

Deputy Sherlock said:

“With some businesses set to begin reopening from tomorrow, many working parents will be looking ahead to when they too are due to return to work.

“Warnings from Fórsa in today’s Sunday Business Post of a potential ‘ticking time bomb’ for many workers who are due back before crèches reopen, hit the nail on the head.

“I appreciate the obvious difficulties when it comes to childcare and public health measures such as social distancing particularly among very young children, so we need to ensure that every ‘i’ is dotted and ‘t’ crossed in this regard; the health and safety of children and workers is paramount.

“We saw with the poorly planned out scheme for healthcare workers just how important it is to get every detail right.

“Many healthcare staff are still left in the lurch without childcare, which also means less essential workers on the frontline.

“That is why we need a clear and coherent plan for the reopening of the childcare sector as a whole that takes all these issues into account; the Government needs to show a real sense of urgency on this.

“The Covid crisis has also reinforced just how essential our Early Years service is.

“However with expensive crèche fees, long waiting lists, low paid workers and a high staff turnover, it has been clear long before the Covid crisis that the current childcare model isn’t working.

“Labour has argued of the need to move toward a universal public childcare service for some time, making a change in direction for the country’s childcare policy a core part of our recent election manifesto.

“This included plans for a public childcare scheme for working parents, alongside measures to improve pay for workers in the sector, increased oversight and proposals to reduce costs for providers.

“With talk of a return to ‘normal’ when this crisis is over, we need to seriously look at a ‘new’ normal when it comes to childcare services in this country and bring Ireland in line with the rest of Europe.”