Childcare providers have staged a demonstration outside Leinster House over what they say is a shortfall in government funding, reports RTE.
The Federation of Early Childhood Caregivers organised the action and said that as part of the protest, hundreds of its members have closed their nurseries for three days from today.
A large crowd of nursery owners, parents and childcare staff gathered outside the Dáil to call for more investment in the sector and highlight what they see as excessive regulation and red tape.
There will be local protests across the country tomorrow and Thursday.
“Early years providers are closing their doors for good in our sector because the lack of Government funding has made the business unviable,” said Elaine Dunne, Chairperson of the FECP, reports RTE.
The FECP represents about 1,500 childcare providers and said it expects to close hundreds of daycare centres as part of this week’s protests.
Children’s Minister Roderick O’Gorman said he was deeply disappointed by the move.
“We’re playing catch up, but we’ve made really important strides over the last three years, a €400 million increase – that’s 60% growth in State investment. I don’t know any other area of State funding that has grown so much, so quickly,” Mr O’Gorman told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, reports RTE.
Last year, childcare providers agreed to freeze their fees to take advantage of the government’s new €221m core funding scheme.
“We are at the same point now [90%] that we were last year. I’d be looking to continue to decrease fees for parents. I’d be looking to invest in schemes like the access and inclusion model that helps children with a disability access early years and it’s actually something the federation has been calling for. And I will be looking to continue to grow core funding,” the Minister said, reports RTE.
“We achieved the 25% cut this year and will be looking to grow that but I can’t predict the outcome of the budget,” he added, reports RTE.
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