Nearly 4,000 child care providers have signed up to a government funding program that requires them to charge parents the same child care fees as last September.
About nine out of ten suppliers have subscribed to the basic funding model which makes €221 million available, as announced in last year’s budget, through contracts starting this week.
The funding will mean that 200,000 families do not pay higher fees, while 25,000 employees will be entitled to pay increases based on new pay rates under new employment regulation orders.
“There are strings attached to this investment,” said Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman, launching ‘Together for Better’, a new funding model that includes core funding.
“This requires providers to freeze their fees at last year’s rates, enforce staff pay rates, and a significant degree of operational and financial transparency about how services operate.”
Mr O’Gorman acknowledged that childcare workers were leaving the industry due to low pay rates and said the new funding was aimed at securing higher pay rates.
“Child care providers receive this salary from the state so that it does not interfere with the sustainability of child care providers, and they do not need to return to parents and increase fees,” he said.
He said he had not discussed final figures for childcare fee cuts in the budget later this month with Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath, but reiterated that he was looking for a ” substantial reduction” with an increase in the state subsidy in the National Childcare Scheme.
“I am looking to increase this grant in this year’s budget so that parents see a noticeable difference in how much they pay after this year’s budget,” he said.