The Government has announced a €716 million childcare package as part of Budget 2022.
As part of the package, a new funding stream for up to 4,700 early years and childcare providers will be put in place from September 2022 onwards, at an estimated cost of €69 million next year, to support improvements in the quality of childcare provision.
The National Childcare Scheme universal subsidy will be extended to children under 15 from September 2022, benefitting up to 40,000 children at a cost of €5 million.
Cork preschool owner Minna Murphy said she was delighted with the measures announced for the Early Years and childcare sector in Budget 2022.
“I am absolutely delighted. Finally, our work is valued. Finally, the Government understands how important we are for the children, for families, and for the whole of society. This is brilliant news for the future of the sector. This is a bright light for those who want to work in the sector going forward,” she said.
Ms Murphy, who is the manager of Kildinan Preschool said that as a proprietor, she can only pay what she is getting.
“We get the cake, but from that, I need to share with my staff, myself, and buy toys, materials, and equipment. That cake has never been big enough to really pay for us the amount that we deserve,” Ms Murphy said.
“This budget is finally shining a light on the sector which is so badly needed. It gives hope for the future. Young adults who want to join the sector can now see a career path and they can pay their bills and get their mortgage.
The package has also been welcomed by Early Childhood Ireland who had been calling on the Government to honour commitments aimed at doubling investment in childcare by 2028.
Director of policy at Early Childhood Ireland, Frances Byrne, said the measures announced represent some long-overdue progress.
“After years of insecurity, Budget 2022 delivers some peace of mind for childcare providers, their staff and the families they serve,” Ms. Byrne said. “This increased investment recognises how essential our sector is to wider society and the economy. Now, the Government must seize this opportunity to properly reform the sector and move us closer to the much-lauded Scandinavian childcare model.”
She expressed hope for the future of the industry adding: “There is still much work to be done to bring Ireland’s childcare system in line with other EU Member States. However, this increased funding will move us in the right direction.”