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Planned Reductions in Childcare Costs for Families in Wicklow – Matthews

Deputy Steven Matthews, TD for Wicklow, has welcomed the Green Party’s plans to cut childcare costs by 50% by 2024 and increase access to Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) in Budget 2023. Matthews’ Green Party colleague and the Minister for Children, Roderic O’Gorman TD, recently introduced a Core Funding agreement worth €221 million which will increase funding to 99% of childcare providers and introduce a freeze on fee increases for parents. Speaking in favour of these reforms, Deputy Matthews said:

“Access to affordable and high-quality childcare is a key priority for the Green Party in Government. We understand how important it is for parents and especially women to have the choice to return to work following a period of leave. The cost-of-living crisis has impacted household incomes and we must ensure that families can access childcare places at a lower cost. That is why my Green Party colleague and the Minister Roderic O’Gorman, has committed to halving childcare fees by 2024.

“Our vision for Early Years and Childcare involves reducing childcare fees for parents, increasing the number of places available to children and ensuring higher levels of pay and improved conditions for those working in the sector. The National Development Plan has allocated €70 million for capital investment in the childcare sector over the next decade.

“We have already made progress on these objectives. A national fee freeze was agreed for the coming year, and we are seeking a reduction in fees in Budget 2023. The Core Funding model for the childcare sector will establish a secure source of income for childcare providers and contribute to higher standards of care for children. Minister Roderic O’Gorman established a Joint Labour Committee to examine the pay and conditions of childcare professionals, and this will soon conclude with a new Employee Wage Order that will see wages rise across the sector. State subsidies and regulations will be introduced for the first time for childminders, who will be included in the National Childcare Scheme (NCS).

“The Government also plans to establish a dedicated state agency to support the delivery of ELC and school-aged childcare. This follows a recommendation from a review into the operating model of childcare which was published last March.

“The Green Party will transform supports for Early Years in Ireland. We are aware of issues relating to the availability and cost of childcare and we are seeking to address these as soon as possible. Through Core Funding, we are delivering a model that will benefit children, parents and those working in the childcare sector. If anyone has questions about the Government’s policies on childcare or access to childcare in Wicklow, I would encourage them to get in touch directly and I will offer any support I can”, Deputy Matthews concluded.



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