A new funding scheme for childcare is in danger of "disproportionately going to those who are better off", while at the same time "hurting families" who live in "the areas of highest deprivation".
This is the view of Social Democrats Galway City East councillor, Owen Hanley, who was reacting to the National Childcare Scheme which is due to come into effect in October.
The new scheme entitles families to financial supports, based on income, to access private and community childcare facilities. According to the Department of Children, more families with incomes of up to €90,000 will now be entitled to financial supports.
However, the National Family Resource Centre Forum, which operates 49 children’s centres funded by the taxpayer, has called the plan "discriminatory and regressive", and expressed fears that it could "force" many such centres to close as a high proportion of the children’s parents are unemployed.
Cllr Hanley said the new scheme would move funds away from children of unemployed parents. "I've spoken to families and creche workers in areas of the city who are worried the new childcare shakeup will result in a serious funding shortfall and will hurt already disadvantaged children," he said. "It makes no logical sense to redistribute funds to wealthier areas, while at the same time increasing childcare costs on already overburdened working class families."
Cllr Hanley accused the Government of "using children to punish parents who cannot find employment, regardless of why", and said it was "another example of policy by this government that's completely lacking in compassion". He is calling on Minister Katherine Zappone to revise the scheme, and create a funding system based on equitable service through universal childcare.