Childcare provider strike ‘not warranted’, says Minister Roderic O’Gorman

The three-day strike leading to childcare providers closing their doors is not “warranted”, Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman has said.

The Federation of Early Childhood Providers has said that a “significant” number of providers will be closing their doors and going on a three-day strike later this month.

A protest is due to be held in Dublin between September 26 and 28.

The representative body of over 1000 providers said that the rising number of childcare providers closing down could lead to the State not being able to cater for the number of children requiring childcare services.

Speaking on Newstalk’s The Anton Savage Show, Minster O’Gorman said: “I don’t believe that these closures are warranted.”

“Since I’ve come to office, I’ve significantly increased the amount of investment in child care in our country. We all recognize that for decades, Ireland didn’t invest in child care. We’re hugely under invested compared to the rest of Europe. And I’ve been working really hard to catch this up,” he said.

In Budget 2022, the Government announced Core Funding with a full year allocation of €221m.

Core funding is said to be a payment to providers of early-learning and care and school-age childcare to improve affordability for parents.

“When I started, the annual investment in child care was 638 million this year. It’s over a billion. So in three years, we’ve increased it by 400 million euro, in any sector of the state spending, that’s a huge increase in a short period of time. It’s still not enough, and we want to grow with more.

“I’ve been able to cut costs for parents because we all know childcare fees in Ireland are too expensive,” he said.

However, the federation has said Core Funding has not led to an increase of financial reward for providers.

Since the start of last year, more than 180 creches have closed despite the launch of the government funding to transform the childcare sector.

In 2022, a total of 141 providers closed down while another 42 this year up to June, according to new figures by the Department of Children.

There were 196 closures in 2019, 197 in 2020, 141 in 2021.

Mr O’Gormon said the capacity of childcare sector in increasing.

“The capacity of the sector is increasing. And we’re seeing the number of closures per year decreasing. This year is the lowest number of closures to date in the last five years,” he said.

“I absolutely recognise that we need to get more funding into child care…I’m working to deliver it further in this year’s budget. I want to deliver for providers, people who are represented by the Federation and by other groups and staff in child care,” he added.