Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children Robert Troy has called on the Minister for Children to fundamentally reassess how the Government is approaching the issue of childcare, accusing the Minister of ignoring the issue of cost, which remains a major barrier to working parents returning to employment.
Deputy Troy said: “Access to affordable childcare places, is essential for working parents who want to return to or remain in the workplace. The Government has been presented with a significant body of evidence to show that affordability of childcare is a major barrier to parents getting back into work. The annual cost of full-time childcare for two children is over €16,000 a year.
“The Minister appears to be unclear about the desired outcome of the review which she initiated on foot the recent Indecon report.
“The fact of the matter is this Minister is not delivering for parents. During the Dáil debate on childcare yesterday the Minister gave no sign that there was any measure on the way from this government to tackle childcare costs for parents. There are over 400,000 households with children under the age of 10, almost 270,000 of which have children under 5 years of age. What is the Minister doing that will help bring down their childcare costs?
“I welcome the fact that Minister Fitzgerald is focussing on improving the quality of childcare available but urgent action is also needed on costs. I do not believe these issues are mutually exclusive. What is required is new thinking in Government. Fianna Fáil has proposed a new childcare package that includes a new tax break for working families to help with the cost of childcare. We also believe there is scope for the Government to provide a direct payment through the Family Income Supplement (FIS) to address childcare costs.
“What is needed now is cross departmental action on the issue of quality affordable childcare and recognises childcare as a labour activation measure.”