Childcare organisation calls for additional €191 million budget funding for sector



The Federation of Early Childhood Providers (FECP) has called for additional funding of €191m for the sector in budget 2023, to “stabilise the industry and improve outcomes for children, parents, staff and providers”.

ast year Childrens’ Minister Roderic O’Gorman announced what he described as a “transformative” €183m childcare package, but the FECP said the Government “must recognise how far its current commitments are from the UNICEF target of 1pc of GDP”.

With 1,400 members, the FECP represent over one third (34pc) of independent providers, servicing 55,000 children and their families.

In its pre-budget submission, the organisation said an additional €80m Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme funding is needed for next year, “which would benefit 90pc of services nationwide”.

It said the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) also needs an extra €31m in 2023 to allow children with additional needs to participate fully and enjoy the same benefits.

The FECP has called for a €100,000 allocation for a study, and incentives to add diversity to the sector and to include “more males and minorities”.

“Gender and diversity imbalance in the sector is not good modelling for future generations; cultural change is needed to reflect society and create opportunity,” the submission states.

“Staff turnover, at 19pc, is problematic; disruptive to staff, children, and their families as well as providers. Improving pay and contracts is essential and would send a long-awaited message of appreciation to a valuable and highly educated workforce.”

The organisation said the Government must “protect affordability” and choice for parents, by committing to slowing the trend of service closures.

It has also called for the abolishment of commercial rates for childcare providers.

FECP National Chairperson Elaine Dunne said the Government has an obligation to care for the youngest members of our society and to support their parents.

“The issues and solutions have been spelled-out for some time. But the question remains as to how committed Government is to educating and supporting our young people and their parents who want to work,” she said.

“The Minister’s commitment to reach €1bn a year in spending by 2028 will, even at that stage, still leave spending at just 0.16pc of GDP.

“The only income source for ECCE preschools is Government funding.

Providers are prohibited from charging fees to parents for this component of the service, so capitation must be increased to avoid closures. Larger childcare facilities, similarly, cannot load full-time fee increases onto already stretched parents.

“We are proposing a minimalist approach of front-loaded spending increases to stabilise the sector immediately. Plus, the delivery mechanisms for early years funding are complicated and incoherent and serve no one”, the FECP Chairperson maintains.



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