Fianna Fáil General Election candidate for Dublin Fingal Lorraine Clifford-Lee maintains that the Government’s figures on childcare are inaccurate and a “complete red herring.”
Ms Clifford-Lee has questioned the detail of the proposals announced in the budget on childcare, warning that the Government has made a number of claims that the small print simply does not stand up. Lorraine commented, “The expansion of the early childcare care and education scheme is not what is seems and parents should not be fooled. The announcements are not a full solution to childcare affordability. The free preschool scheme only covers 3 hours per day for 38 weeks, which means that parents working longer than 15 hours per week (or during the summer) have to pay for other childcare arrangements. “These measures will do nothing to reduce the childcare bills for parents of toddlers (under 3), who will have to continue to struggle with upwards of €800 per month for a full time day care place, without any respite from the government.
“As the mother of a young child I know that my daughter will get a maximum of 1.5 years free preschool. If I was to get the two years free pre school it would mean enrolling her the January after she turns 3 and keeping her in preschool until she’s 5 and a half and that would have her not starting primary school until she is just turning 6 which is far too late! The Fianna Fáil proposal had two full years and the parents could decide when they started at any stage after 2 and a half.
“The expansion of the early childcare care and education scheme is not what is seems and parents should not be fooled,” warned Lorraine.
“While the government announced that children from ages 3 to 5.5yrs will be eligible to participate on the Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme, it appears that in reality this measure will do little to significantly expand the provision of preschool actually undertaken. Unless Parents are willing to hold their child back starting school until they are over 5 years of age, they will not experience any extra benefit from this announcement today. “For lots of different reasons, most parents will choose to place their child in primary school, as more hours per day of childcare are provided in school than in preschool. Since most children who begin school between ages 4 to 41/2, they will only avail of 2 extra months preschool (for 15 hours per week or total 120 hours). This is a drop in the ocean for parents working full time and will do very little to reduce their childcare bills.
“No one will actually get 2.5 years of free preschool. The figures just don’t add up. The only way it would work is if your child does not start primary school until they are aged six years.
“Fianna Fáil is the only party to address the issue of childcare affordability head on and the only party with proposals for directly helping struggling families with the costs of childcare. The Government’s spin disintegrates under basic scrutiny and a lot of parents are going to be very angry that they have been misled in this way.”