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€3m childcare fund will leave 70% of providers 'out in the cold'

Early Childhood Ireland is proposing that a separate strand of funding is immediately ringfenced for private childcare providers.

Image: child image via Shutterstock

FUNDING ANNOUNCED YESTERDAY for community childcare services will leave the majority of providers “out in the cold” according to Early Childhood Ireland.

The scheme was announced by Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald, yesterday. Some €2.5 million will be used to upgrade community facilities and a further €500,000 will go towards parent and toddler groups and grants for childminders.

Speaking today at the organisation’s conference in Croke Park, CEO of Early Childhood Ireland Teresa Heeney said the scheme is “unfair and short sighted, totally ignoring private providers of early childhood care and education in Ireland, who make up 70% of the sector”.

“While we welcome wholeheartedly the €2.5 million allocation for the repair, maintenance and upgrade of community and not-for-profit childcare services, private providers face the very same cost challenge when it comes to repair work and they can’t be expected to fund this work when the money simply isn’t there,” she commented.

“A scheme which only looks after parent and toddler groups, childminders and community services ignores the rest of those hard working professionals holding up this sector. It just doesn’t make sense economically or morally and we’ve received many complaints overnight.”

Heeney said the organisation has already contacted the minister’s office to express its dissatisfaction. It is proposing that a separate strand of funding is immediately ringfenced to fund similar projects for private providers.

“We can’t create a two tier system where funds are directed at community services only, and this government must reinforce its commitment to all early childhood education providers, many of whom are on the brink of coping financially,” she said.

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