Zappone: Reports of Cabinet rift over childcare 'do not reflect what's going on'

The Children's Minister says budget negotiations have been 'amicable and firm'

Zappone: Reports of Cabinet rift over childcare 'do not reflect what's going on'

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The Children's Minister says she has not been kept in the dark by Fine Gael over the Government's childcare plan.

The Irish Times reports that Katherine Zappone was left out of Budget discussions after she unveiled a plan to subsidise care for low income families.

The subsidy would amount to around €2,000 per child per year.

The plan would reportedly initially focus on families with a combined parental income of €47,000 or less.

The plan was criticised for neglecting the so-called 'squeezed middle', and Minister Zappone was reportedly not consulted about alternatives.

However, Minister Zappone says they are still negotiating and the reports of a rift at Cabinet do not reflect what is really going on. 

"I don't know where these phantom sources are coming from," she said. "The negotiations have been amicable [and] firm."

CEO of the National Childhood Network, Denise McCormilla, spoke to Newstalk Breakfast about the childcare proposals.

"It's something that we and many others have been calling for for quite some time," she explained.

"There needs to be an increase in funding, it needs to go directly to services, and in that way we can support the sector."

Meanwhile, experts have suggested Ireland is lagging behind other European Countries when it come to investing in childcare.

Early Childhood Ireland will today present proposals to improve childcare standards at the Department of Children and Youth Affairs' Early Years Forum.

It says the Government needs to respect and reward childcare workers and help parents out with costs.

Director of Policy and Communications Dónall Geoghegan says the sector urgently needs more funding.

"This is an opportunity in this Budget for Government to really give parents a break, but at the same time ensuring that the services are sustainable," he observed.