Calls for help began in early June. They appeared in WhatsApp groups, in idle chat with neighbors and in queues for coffee.

Help was needed, at least until the end of June.

Help is needed throughout the summer.

“We need a caregiver for three- and seven-year-olds from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. five days a week in July and August.”

“Does anyone have a teenage daughter who might not allow eight-year-old twin boys for the summer?”

“Are there camps for four-year-olds?”

With about half a million children graduating from primary school this week and some of the 5,000 pre-schools closing their doors in the summer, I hope parents have received the help they need. I’m sure their employers and the Treasury are also hoping.

If Covid has illuminated sunlight on the absolutely fundamental infrastructure that childcare is for our economy and society, and if we then return to our ambiguous care system at an unbearable cost, then the gap in childcare caused by the summer will return. is a timely reminder of this patchwork, expensive system. And maybe push something to do with it.


For years, organizations such as the National Women’s Council of Ireland and experts, including Professor Ursula Barry, have called for the creation of a state-funded childcare system in Ireland.

This is not new, this is not the invention of the wheel – the standard of child care, which is funded by the state in many European countries.

This is a model that sees that parents can get affordable and well-regulated care.

This is a model that assumes that childcare workers are paid above the poverty line and should not sign up in June.

Now in Ireland our childcare system looks something like this: grandparents, expensive nurseries, booked pre-schools, small institutions in people’s homes, parents who combine paid and unpaid work, one parent leaves the workforce altogether and some parents leave here, with some after-school care there. This is a buffet system.

And at the heart of this are small, impressive and valuable people who will benefit greatly from the quality of early care, especially those who do not have the privilege of standing on an equal footing.

Barry University College professor Barry talks about “placing the aid economy at the heart of Irish society”. Because let’s face it, care is the invisible center of our society and economy, both from a day-to-day and a very long-term perspective.

Workers, as stressed in the blocking regime, are strictly forbidden to be economically productive if they cannot get help for those whose lives depend on them.

No worries, no work. No workers, no economy.

Care is crucial. But mostly unpaid, in the form of parents staying at home, or low paid in the case of childcare workers, nannies and nannies.

In the long run, if everyone stopped breeding because the consequences were too costly, where would our future taxpayers come from?

“Behind every office or mine is the work of millions of women who have consumed their lives, their work, producing labor that works in these factories, schools, offices and mines,” said Italian-American scientist Sylvia Federici.

In the recently published book Essential Labor, which is largely linked to the care gap caused and exposed by Covid, Angela Garbs describes in black and white the absolutely fundamental and invaluable nature of care work.

“Placing reproductive labor outside the capitalist sphere is what supports the whole system,” Garbes writes.

“If those who were engaged in‘ professional ’work had to pay proportionately to care workers who made their work possible, profits would be lower. Without us, the system is falling apart. “

We went through it.

Which brings us back to Ireland.

Currently, the state helps with child care in two ways: through ECCE (Care and Education of Young Children) and the National Child Care Scheme (NCS).

ECCE gives you 15 free hours of service a week, three hours a day for five days – most people don’t live near preschools, so you can consider commuting back to those three hours.

And it starts in September, when the child turns three. It turns out January is not the best time to have a baby if you need childcare assistance in Ireland.

The national childcare scheme starts at six months, but its contribution to the cost of care is nominal next to the cost of the crèche.

Combining the two schemes means that the state sends all this money into the hands of private childcare providers, rather than, say, transferring it to this state-funded childcare model.

Imagine if we could reinvest only part of this money in the state and in the civil service, and all in the service of our most impressive citizens – our children.

Earlier this month, the Minister for Children, Roderick O’Gorman, told the newspaper that he was finalizing proposals to significantly reduce nursery fees and increase wages for those working in the field.

“Our goal in this year’s budget is to significantly reduce childcare costs for all parents,” Mr O’Gorman said.

But in cutting costs are we really into boxing?

Will there be a transition to a state model of care, which is standard in many of our neighboring countries, that will ensure the stability of the system and safety for workers?

Will a step be taken to recognize the invaluable work of childcare and the labor economy it supports?

Will the contribution to the economy of caregivers, at home or outside, be recognized and rewarded?

If you think it’s worth, “how could we move towards such a model?”, Turn the clock back to 1970, when women in Ireland earned an average of 55% of men’s hourly rates. The change has been activated. It did not bankrupt the nation; on the contrary, in fact.

The budget for 2023 will be announced in October this year. Right now, government departments and ministers are working out what it will look like.

Nowadays, many parents and guardians are experts in how the balance of paid work and care work looks and feels, how it affects the balance of their family and, most importantly, the quality of their lives and the well-being of their children.

This summer, when you reminisce about what feels like a care gap in your life, perhaps we can use this experience to ask the people we have chosen to run our state to build systems that serve our lives and reflect our society. . Email to your local TD can be very important.

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