INTO Lead Call for Full, Free, Universal Public Childcare Provision at ICTU Women’s Conference

Meeting in Enniskillen at the Irish Congress of Trade Unions Women’s Conference this week, INTO led the charge for full, free universal public childcare provision funded through progressive taxation. This call to action, unanimously endorsed by Congress, recognises the critical role childcare plays in the lives of women, both as workers and parents.

Referencing Minister Zappone’s commitment to radically reform the funding model for early childhood care and education, INTO’s Equality Officer, Dr. Alison Gilliland, argued the need to shift away from the failed solutions of the past such as schemes which were too expensive or not available locally.

Any model of childcare provision introduced should be flexible to the needs of parents and provide appropriate levels of resource and training for those parents who choose to stay at home and care for their own children. Such a model will allow for a fully supported, appropriately remunerated, professional and unionised career path for childcare workers, minders and providers.

Research carried out by INTO Equality Committee found that the biggest challenge for women working in the education sector was the cost of childcare and after school care, followed closely by the burden of securing suitable childcare provision. Also cited was the lack of flexibility in work to manage disruption in childcare or after school care arrangements.

There was also evidence that the cost of childcare is a factor when deciding how many children to have, that difficulties in managing childcare or after school care arrangements prevented women from applying for a promotion and that women reduced their working hours and even moved jobs to manage both the cost and the availability of childcare.