Childcare providers and parents will stage a protest outside Leinster House today to highlight issues with funding for the sector.

They say that new core funding proposals for Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) providers and day care services are threatening to close hundreds of local services.

Under the proposals, providers are being asked to cap fees at last year’s rate of inflation of 2.2%.

Organised by the Federation of Early Childcare Providers (FECP), today’s demonstration coincides with a presentation to TDs in Leinster House.

“ECCE services represent one third of all childcare providers and was a vulnerable sector even before Covid,” said FECP President Elaine Dunne.

“Now, in the context of inflation, historically low funding, staffing and regulatory pressures, many services are in real financial difficulty,” she added.

The group is expressing its opposition to the freezing or capping of fees at a time of high inflation and is also calling for a subsidy of €100 per child on the ECCE scheme to cover costs currently subsidised by the childcare owner.

The Government has said that the cutting of childcare costs for parents will be one of its priorities in October’s Budget.

Meanwhile, SIPTU is calling for a pay deal for childcare workers saying it is the only way to deal with the worsening staffing crisis in the sector.

“Workers simply cannot afford to stay in their chosen profession,” SIPTU Head of Strategic Organising Darragh O’Connor said.

“This is bad for workers who cannot make ends meet. It is also bad for providers who are struggling to recruit and retain staff,” he add.