A public meeting on the cost and quality of childcare, and the pay and conditions of those working in the sector, will take place this evening in the Club House Hotel in Kilkenny City.
The meeting is being organised by the Labour Party, and the guest speaker will be former Minister for Education Jan O’ Sullivan, who is the party’s spokesperson on Children and Youth Affairs. She will be joined by Eira Gallagher of SIPTU and Barry Cunningham of IMPACT Trade Unions.
The meeting, chaired by local party chairperson, Seán Ó hArgáin, is open to all parents, childcare workers and operators and any other concerned citizen. It will begin at 8pm.
“Along with serious issues in the health and housing sectors, the cost and quality of childcare and early years education is one of the most urgent issues facing young families today,” said chairman Sean Ó hArgáin.
“While much progress has been made, in particular with the extension by our party of the ECCE scheme to a second year for all children, the costs involved in childcare are now a huge burden on families. We all meet parents, one of whom is working almost entirely to fund their childcare costs which is ludicrous.
“The concerns over the quality of care and preschool education are also very real with a concern about the lack of consistent standards across all areas. The introduction of the Aistear scheme should give a seamless transfer between preschool and early primary school years but that does not always happen. There are also real concerns about the low rates of pay for staff working in the sector and how this impacts on quality and retention of staff in the long term,” says Mr Ó hArgáin.
“In this meeting, we hope to begin a real conversation in our area about tackling these serious issues and building on the existing system of community and private facilities to ensure we have the best possible learning and developmental outcomes for all of our children, regardless of their means.”