Childcare workers across the country are going on a three-day strike from today in protest of the “dire situation the industry is now in”.
Parents and childcare employees will march on the Dáil today to highlight “inadequate Government funding and excessive regulation, administration, burn out and bureaucracy”.
Childcare providers will march on the offices of local TDs and local County Childcare Committee offices on Wednesday and Thursday.
Federation of Early Childhood Providers (FECP) Chair Elaine Dunne said 97 childcare providers have closed across the country since March this year.
“This is having a devastating effect,” she said.
“Our members have salaries to pay, alongside the cost of food and heating, utilities, bank charges, rates, maintenance and upgrade costs.
"If Government want childcare services and ECCE places to facilitate a healthy labour market and let people go to work, then adequate provision needs to be made.”
FECP members have said many providers can only afford to pay staff €13 an hour “due to such severe underfunding, although others are subsidising pay out of their own pockets”.
Ms Dunne said although the Government is “well-intentioned”, Children Minister Roderic O’Gorman’s core funding programme has failed.
“We completely refute the claim that €1 billion a year is being spent on childcare, when it is clear that under half of this alleged budget goes toward the sector,” she said.
“We need to see the full allocation of this funding now. We have continuously asked for this breakdown from many TDs but have yet received this information.”
'More investment in this year's budget'
Minister O'Gorman told Newstalk Breakfast he is fighting for more investment.
"In Ireland we've under-invested in childcare historically, we're playing catch," he said
"We've made really significant progress over the last three years, and in this year's budget negotiations I'm looking to continue to grow on that and build further investment."
Minister O'Gorman said he believes costs can be cut further for parents.
"There's absolutely challenges in the sector, there's challenges around staff as well," he said.
"We've increased investment very significantly; I'm fighting to get more investment in this year's budget, and I believe that we can continue to cut cost for parents, pay our staff better and continue to ensure that childcare providers are sustainable," he added.
Additional reporting: Jack Quann