‘Affordability, Quality and Accessibility’ – Why childcare is an important election issue

Jan 20, 2016

This is a guest blog post written by Mark O’Mahoney, Director of Policy and Communications, Chambers Ireland.

This morning I was part of the discussion panel at the launch of the Start Strong Early Years General Election campaign. Start Strong are a coalition of organisations and individuals seeking to advance children’s early care and education in Ireland. The Early Years campaign invites all General Election 2016 candidates to sign up to the promise to address three main issues affecting childcare and early years education in Ireland: Affordability, Quality and Accessibility.

Ciairín de Buis, Director of Start Strong, made the point that, “For too long our nation’s young children have been short-changed. Our family leave policy is far behind our European neighbours, and our childcare is too expensive without any guarantee of quality. It’s time we started taking early years seriously.”

Speaking at the launch in Buswells Hotel, I made the business case for why investment in childcare is essential. Chambers Ireland recognises that access to affordable, high-quality childcare has long been a problem for both parents and employers here. Until we re-think our approach to childcare services our businesses will continue to lose talented employees, parents, particularly women, will be forced out of the labour market and costly childcare will absorb households’ disposable income.

We support the Start Strong campaign and will also be calling for greater investment in childcare and early years education in our own General Election 2016 manifesto. Investing in young children will reap huge economic benefits, not just through long-term improvements in education and career outcomes which quality care can provide to children, but also in the short term. Currently Ireland is suffering an extraordinary loss in skills and talent because half of all of women with two or more children do not re-enter the workforce. Affordable, quality and accessible childcare will free up parents to return to work, improving the skills of our workforce and allowing Ireland to better compete.

For more information on the Start Strong Early Years campaign visit their website: www.startstrong.ieor follow them on twitter @StartStrongIrl 

You can read Chambers Ireland’s Investing for Tomorrow: Supporting the Economy through Affordable Childare document here

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