Affordable Childcare Scheme: ‘Childcare providers are desperate and frustrated’

Childcare providers have subsidised the chronic underfunding from the government out of their own pockets for years, Jennifer Whitmore writes for – link below

THERE HAS BEEN lots of feelgood fanfare around the roll out of the Affordable Childcare Scheme, which came into force last week. Promotional videos show cute children talking about what their parents get up to when they are busy at crèche.

For working parents struggling with childcare costs, what’s not to like about a State subsidy to help with crèche fees? By enabling more parents to avail of childcare services outside the home, the scheme must surely be greeted with open arms by the childcare providers too?

That’s what you’d think. And it’s what I thought before I carried out an online straw poll in the past week. Curious about how this scheme was going down, I put out a call online to parents in my local area.

Palpable desperation and frustration

I had expected to hear back from parents struggling with increasing childcare costs. Instead the voices I heard were from childcare providers, whose desperation and frustration was palpable. The strong message coming through was that the implementation of this policy, however well meaning, is seriously flawed.

For example, several childcare operators told me that their contracts with the government providing for the roll-out of the programme had not arrived and that they were hearing that the situation was the same in all childcare facilities across the country. They don’t know what rules will be included in their contracts, or when payments etc will be made. They have been told the contracts will be with them in October*.

The managers of childcare facilities who got in touch with me also spoke of an increased administrative burden as result of this new scheme that is placing huge strains on them and their businesses. Some crèches have reported that forms can take 20 minutes to fill out per child. Multiple this by 40 or 50 children, and you can understand their frustration.

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