Government’s Affordable Childcare Scheme already being abused by some private childcare providers says Brian Hayes MEP
Brian Hayes MEP has stated that the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone must urgently look at ways of safe-guarding parents against extortionate childcare fee hikes.
“The Government’s Affordable Childcare scheme, which comes into operation in the next week, is a wonderful and very positive big step towards supporting parents in providing quality and accessible childcare. Affordability for parents is also one of the cornerstones underpinning this scheme and I very much welcome and acknowledge the fact that investment in childcare, at €466 million, is an 80% increase on 2015. This is good news for parents, for children and for the majority of childcare providers.
“However, I have been contacted by a number of constituents in Dublin who have already been told that their creche fees will increase over the next few months – in one case, the fee amounts to a hefty 8%, which ratchets up for parents who have more than one child being looked after.
“According to the Affordable Childcare website (www.affordablechildcare.ie), ‘childcare fees are set by childcare providers and may be determined by many factors, such as rent, electricity, insurance etc. Childcare providers have been provided with an additional €3.5m ‘non-contact payment’ to administer these supports to families so any rise in childcare fees should not relate to availability of these supports to your family’.
“I do acknowledge the majority of privately run creches provide a vital service and offer great support to families. However, I am aware of one Dublin West creche which unashamedly informed parents that a 8% pay hike was being imposed to cover both the ECCE (Free pre-school scheme) and CCSP (Affordable Childcare Scheme) subsidies. This same creche only imposed a 7% hike 18 months ago. A 15% increase in that time period is extortionate.
“These hikes have got to be regulated by the Minister’s Department, and fast.
“Huge credit is due to Minister Zappone and this Government for introducing these latest measures which aim to support parents – but there is a real fear that parents and children aren’t going to be the real winners here. Privately operated creches must not be allowed take what the Government is giving them with one hand, while grabbing more from hard-working parents with the other.
“I am calling on Minister Zappone to shine a light on this area and ensure that those privately owned creches and childcare services which are hoping to make a killing on this scheme don’t win.”