An Inishowen woman is to represent Ireland as a ‘Country Expert’ at a peer review event in Prague, at which childcare and early education provision in Ireland will be under the spotlight.
Avril McMonagle, Manager of Donegal County Childcare, was nominated by Childcare
Committees Ireland and will accompany a Government Official from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs where they will discuss Ireland’s progress in developing social policies that support parents access to the labour market and alleviate risks of child poverty.
Avril is a vocal contributor on this topic and in 2013 succeeded in commissioning Ireland’s first nationwide and fully costed research on the cost of childcare as a barrier to parents participation in the workforce. She frequently points out the relevance of this in the Donegal context where over 56% of low income families stated that childcare arrangements had prevented them from looking for, or remaining in employment.
Avril believes that quality early education has two clear functions - improving child outcomes and determining parent’s participation in the labour market. Unfortunately, Governments tend to focus on one of these functions and neglect the other. This is a mistake, as they are both sides of the same coin – access to affordable childcare, a parent’s ability to work and positive outcomes for children are impossible to disentangle. We need cross cutting policies that support these areas collectively.
Avril said: “I am delighted to have the opportunity to participate in this discussion and to showcase many of the progressive developments in childcare and early education that we have witnessed in Ireland in the past decade. However, the fact that the number of Irish children living in poverty – and our own county of Donegal is no exception - doubled in five years is a disgraceful legacy of the economic crash. The accumulative cuts that families have faced in successive budgets have directly brought about these shameful statistics where policy has failed to protect our most vulnerable children.”