Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman has pledged to ‘double’ state support for childcare by 2028 and described the sector as “my number one priority” in budget negotiations.
Speaking to Newstalk, Minister O’Gorman said:
“We already put €638 million into childcare each year. But compared to other European countries, that is quite a small amount… The Government commitment is that by 2028 we’ll have doubled the state investment in childcare and that will bring us to well over a billion euros.”
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However, the plans fall well short of the estimated €2 billion euros it would cost for a full state take over of childcare in Ireland - something O’Gorman said was not on the Government’s agenda:
“What we’re looking at is to take away this marketisation of childcare where, over a number of years, we were seeing this continuous increase in the annual fees that parents were paying.
“So what we’re doing is making sure that any additional funding that we put into the sector is very much linked to a set of conditions in terms of fees and the pay that childcare professionals receive.”
Shortly after taking office in 2020, O’Gorman said that he hoped parents would see "a substantial reduction compared to what they're paying now" over the lifetime of the current Dáil.
However, today he declined to say whether parents could expect a drop in the cost of childcare after this year’s budget.
“We’re right in the middle of these discussions and I’ve engaged significantly with Minister [for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael] McGrath - I know he’s particularly interested in addressing this issue,” O'Gorman said.
“So I don’t want to prejudge those but the issues of affordability and the constant increase in fees… those are my objectives in these budget negotiations.”
Main image: A child is watched as it plays. Picture by: Liam McBurney/PA