A fragmented childcare system
Sir, – “Public childcare would be good for parents and children, Dáil research finds” (News, June 23rd). What next, “Public healthcare would be good for parents and children, Dáil research finds”?
You report that “Ireland’s childcare sector is characterised by some of the highest fees for parents in Europe, as well as low wages and below-average levels of State investment” and that “the current model of childcare provision “has led to a fragmented system which is very expensive and doesn’t produce good results for children, families or the State.”
For parents with children in creches (of whom I am one), this comes as no surprise whatsoever. I have discussed childcare costs with Polish, Italian and Belgian friends and colleagues and they are shocked at the money we pay every month in creche fees compared to what parents pay in their respective countries.
In many European countries there is a cap on creche fees, not to mention proper state funding, where staff who take care of and educate children during their crucial formative years are paid a decent wage for the very important work they do. It is no exaggeration to say that creche fees here can be described as a second mortgage – and that’s only if you have one child; it is obviously even more expensive the more children you have in a creche. And the Government presented its recent announcement that we would not be asked to top-up childcare fees above pre-pandemic levels as good news!
On a broader note, when you consider our cripplingly expensive and underfunded childcare model, our relatively well-funded but underperforming two-tier health service, our State-funded but religiously-dominated school system (around 90 per cent of our primary schools are under the patronage of the Catholic Church), our chronically underfunded and chaotic public transport system, and the lack of State involvement and oversight in relation to nursing homes that has recently come to light, it is clear that the State employs a very light touch regarding the provision of essential services provided to its citizens within its jurisdiction, from cradle to grave.
There is huge room for improvement in our republic. – Yours, etc,