Working parents need more urgent support, and the government must seek to address capacity issues for preschoolers.
That’s according to mother-of-two Emma Quinlan, who said trying to find a satisfactory arrangement for her daughter Isla, 3, and son Arlo, 20 months, frightens her “seriously.”
She spoke in the wake of Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman, who said a new registry for childminders will not come online for at least another year, leaving thousands of parents without access to National Childcare Scheme (NCS) subsidies.
“I just think there’s too much bureaucracy,” she said.
She works in sales for a tech company while her husband works in medicine, which means they’ve moved across the country several times. Her family lives in Kilkenny where her monthly bill for the two children is just under €1,000 but when they lived in Dublin it was around €2,500 a month.
They may have to move to Wexford again and when Ms Quinlan made preliminary inquiries to a number of childcare facilities she hit a brick wall.
There was no availability in any of the crèches or Montessori and she could not find a single childminder even registered with Childminding Ireland, let alone in Tusla.
“There was no vacancy in any of the crèches I called. Many of these are still listed as crèches but are actually Montessori in that they no longer accept children under the age of three.
“Two places I called don’t participate in government programs at all because they said the cost of running it just wasn’t worth it.”
She would support giving working parents a tax break instead, but believes the whole system needs to be overhauled given the chronic lack of availability for early years.
“It should be more like the Scandinavian system where it’s nationalized. Even in the UK they get 30 hours a week for free. This country is imploding and they’re still making it,” she said.
“Capacity is a real issue but if government really believes in promoting gender equality and closing the gender pay gap then they should treat childminders better as most of them are female.
“They need to invest more in early childhood development. I think anyone who works with children deserves the accolade, it’s such a tough job. But it’s still one of the most underrated professions.”
This week, Mr O’Gorman revealed more details of the childcare action plan. He wants more parents to have access to subsidies under the NCS in a €121m package and says this new registry will be up and running late next year or early 2024.
Only about 80 childminders are currently registered with Tusla, making the program easier to access.
However, there are around 15,000 child minders working in Ireland looking after around 88,000 children and none of these families currently have access to government grants.
Childminding Ireland said in a statement that “the vast majority of parents who use childcare services are unable to use the NCS”.
“Child carers caring for small numbers of children cannot register with Tusla and consequently cannot offer NCS to parents who use their services due to the legal exceptions in place,” a spokesman said.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/there-was-not-one-place-available-in-any-of-the-creches-i-rang-former-model-emma-quinlan-reveals-serious-anxiety-over-trying-to-source-childcare-42028182.html ‘There wasn’t a single spot available at any of the crèches I called’ – Former model Emma Quinlan expresses ‘serious concern’ about trying to find childcare