Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson for Justice, Children and Youth Affairs, Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee has said that Fianna Fáil’s impact was felt in Budget 2018 for families in Fingal, but that the lack of affordable housing plans are a real concern.
Commenting following Tuesday’s budget, Senator Clifford-Lee said, “The decision announced in Budget 2018 to increase the number of weeks of Early Childhood Care and Education that children will be eligible for must be welcomed.
“I am concerned however, that the scheme has left the parents of more than one million children, who are either too young or too old to qualify for the scheme, without an alternative affordable childcare option. “Too many families are left crippled by stifling childcare costs, sometimes matching their own mortgage repayments.
“In our General Election manifesto, and in the Confidence and Supply Arrangement, Fianna Fáil prioritised a reduction in costs for childcare.
“Originally established by the last Fianna Fáil government, the ECCE scheme has proven very popular with both childcare providers and with families.
“It was announced this week that the ECCE scheme would be extended from 61 to 76 weeks to support families dealing with the increasing cost of childcare. This extension, allied to the 7% increase in capitation fees, will make going back to work more viable for young families and is evidence of the positive role Fianna Fáil has played. “While this measure alone is not a silver bullet, this extended entitlement will help families cut the cost of childcare.
The Dublin Fingal based Senator commented, “Health and Education have long been key priorities for my party and we are pleased with a number of measures which have been announced in this budget.
“The restoration of the National Treatment Purchase Fund was a key demand in the Confidence & Supply arrangement and the additional €55m investment will help ease hospital waiting times for tens of thousands of people languishing on waiting lists for routine procedures. “Furthermore, the reduction in the pupil-teacher ratio is also a welcome move, and one which we have been campaigning strongly for and are happy to have delivered on. The additional funding allocated to tackle overcrowding in classrooms will see average class sizes falling to their lowest levels ever of 26:1.
She concluded, “I will continue to work to provide additional supports to young families in the North County to help ease the burdens they face at the hands of this Government.”