Budget 2022: What Does It Mean for Childcare and SNAs?
The government has recently announced a number of new measures as part of the 2022 Budget. Notably those which will seek to benefit children and parents in relation to childcare. Moreover, further announcements have caught the eye of both trainee and qualified Special Needs Assistants, which sees over 1,000 new positions added.
Minister Michael McGrath has announced that the Government will invest €716 million into childcare in 2022. He also stated that this would mark “a turning point in the State’s approach to the early years, and childcare sector”. Moreover, Education Minister Norma Foley has secured funding for 1,165 new special needs assistants and almost 1,000 special education teachers.
A key element of Budget 2022 will be a childcare package costing €100 million, rising to €200 million annually. It will seek to freeze fees for many parents and expand access to subsidies for working families and unemployed people.
McGrath said that the ”invaluable role childcare plays into day-to-day lives of thousands of families throughout the country cannot be overstated. Our early years, and childcare workers who care for and educate our children deserve our support and should be paid a wage appropriate to the responsibilities that they carry.”
“We need more capacity in our childcare sector, and more flexibility for working parents. We also need to address the cost of childcare,” he said.
Minister McGraths’ department aims to reform the National Childcare Scheme by investing €78 million into the childcare sector. He said that a new funding stream for up to 4,700 early years and childcare providers will be put in place from September next year onwards. This will cost an estimated €69 million, which will aim to support improvements in the quality of childcare provision. This additional funding will “improve conditions for workers”. McGrath said that this funding “will support providers in attracting and retaining staff. It will provide more options for parents and is linked to a commitment of no increases in fees to parents”.
Education Minister Norma Foley has secured funding for 1,165 new special needs assistants. This is an increase on the 990 positions that were announced in 2021 and the 1,000 in 2020. This will be a relief to the current SNAs who are in the midst of seeking employment. Even after taking additional Job-seeking courses, many learners are still without employment and this announcement as part of Budget 2022 will be a great source of hope to those still on the lookout for their dream job.
Moreover, Minister Foley also secured additional funding for the DEIS scheme, in which a further €18 million was invested. This scheme aims to aid young people from disadvantaged areas who are at risk of experiencing educational disadvantages.