Fianna Fáil election candidate Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan has called for sweeping reforms of the childcare and pre-school sector, as childcare providers across the county struggle with exorbitant insurance premiums and heavy regulation.
The Clonakilty-based candidate said that in some cases, creches have been forced to reduce childcare places, restrict or close their baby rooms or shut down altogether, because they simply cannot cope with the high cost of doing business.
‘This is happening at a time when we already had far too little creche and pre-school places to cope with the demand from families. And in the past year, the situation has gone from bad to worse. I know families who have been left with no place at all for their babies and pre-school children. This is before you even look at creche fees which are an incredible burden on families,’ Cllr O’Sullivan said.
‘There is now only one childcare insurer in Ireland. Premiums have doubled, and even tripled in some cases,’ he added.
‘This is happening at a time when the burden of increased regulation left many providers drowning in paperwork before Christmas, with some creches being de-registered by Tusla without warning and often over a timing issue rather than serious regulation breaches,’ said the county mayor.
‘The frontline childcare workers themselves are on average wages of €12 per hour, with many not paid for holidays or training days. These frontline staff are overworked, underpaid and are leaving the sector, putting it in further crisis. Cork South West will lose more childcare places, and parents will be driven out of the workplace due to childcare issues, unless we look at reforming this sector in a real way. The cost is too high for business and the cost is too high for parents,’ said Cllr O’Sullivan.