The Dáil will vote tonight on a motion calling on the Government to drive down the cost of childcare and introduce a new tax break for working families.
The Fianna Fáil motion demands increased accessibility and affordability of childcare for parents.
Fianna Fáil’s Children Spokesperson Robert Troy said: “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 and the cost of childcare is one of the major issues facing families at the moment. The annual cost of full-time childcare for two children is over €16,000 a year. In many cases childcare is the biggest cost for families every month after their mortgage payment.
“Fianna Fáil’s motion is calling for a new childcare incentive to tackle the problem of childcare costs preventing people from getting into the workplace. We believe there is scope for the Government to provide a direct payment through the Family Income Supplement (FIS) to address childcare costs, to widen the range of childcare options available to low income working families and to introduce a new tax break for working families with children whose income is marginally above the FIS limits.
“Ireland’s childcare policy is actively not supporting families. In fact, in many cases it is systemically punishing working parents and their children. Ireland’s early childhood policy acts as an enormous barrier to working families and to women in particular. As a society we urgently need to address the cost of childcare – these proposals are Fianna Fáil’s constructive contribution to a debate that we are trying to start and which needs to happen around this issue.
“Fianna Fáil believes that the provision of childcare and employment are interdependent and it is really important that policy proposals are developed to act both as an incentive for working parents to either return to or remain in employment and as a measure to tackle child poverty and educational outcomes for children.
“The current childcare funding policy in place does not have any support for working families who do not avail of the Community Childcare Subvention Scheme. It is also clear that the provision of subsidised childcare places is not equally accessible in all areas of the country. I don’t believe that a family’s access to quality childcare should depend on where they live.
“The Minister for Children has said she is looking at the current schemes in place to support families and therefore I believe the Minister accepts that not enough is being done to support parents. Far from supporting families at the moment the Government has cut €30m in maternity benefit from families. We believe we can raise the rate of access, the standard of care and the amount of supports for parents in need of childcare.”