Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson on Justice, Children and Youth Affairs, Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee has warned that the 7% increase in Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme payments announced this week by Children’s Minister, Katherine Zappone is being absorbed by Childcare providers and parents are seeing no reduction to costs.

Earlier this week, Minister Katherine Zappone announced changes to the Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme which will be implemented from September.

Senator Clifford-Lee commented, “I have been contacted this month by many parents who have recently been informed by their childcare provider that their fees will increase for the forthcoming school year.

“The Minister seems to be under some illusion that these changes will pose a benefit; the increase announced this week is clearly being absorbed by childcare providers. Therefore, families are in no way better off.

“It had always been hoped that the overarching objective of the ECCE was to reduce the cost to parents.

“Any notion that children, parents or even providers could benefit from these changes to the pre-school ECCE scheme is inaccurate. The 7% increase in payments for ECCE received by childcare providers means nothing whatsoever for parents.

“They’re already expected to pay higher costs this September regardless.

“The increase in paperwork and administrative work has caused many operators to increase prices to pay for admin support, which undermines the entire basis of the scheme.

“They want to be able to provide the care to children, but they cannot deal with the increase in paperwork and administrative work.

“Rather than announce weightless changes, the Minister needs to put in place better support for those running crèches and community childcare facilities,” the Senator concluded.