SIPTU has warned that a dramatic increase in insurance costs is threatening the viability of services and jobs in the childcare sector and called for government action to ensure coverage can be maintained at affordable rates into 2020. SIPTU Big Start Co-ordinator, Yvonne McGrath, said: “Continued inaction concerning the dramatic increase in insurance premiums for 2020 will ensure that any investment that has been made in terms of providing quality and affordable services will be undermined. Finding affordable childcare is already a huge stress for parents and now they face the potential of services closing due to insurance issues.”  She added: “Early Years educators are extremely concerned about the possibility of losing their jobs. Many are wondering if they will have jobs to return to in January and if their workplace will remain open.”   Early Years professional, Hazel O’Connor, said: “Many services which provide the Early Childhood and Education Scheme will be left with no alternative but to close due to these insurance hikes. This is because the funding model of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs did not take account of insurance hikes and services cannot charge parents additional fees.”   O’Connor added: “The Early Years funding model is in crisis and does not consider all of the increasing costs being absorbed by services. Those who offer National Childcare Scheme or the Community Childcare Subvention Programme must give parents four weeks’ notice of an increase and with insurance quotes increasing by up to 400%, services will be forced to reduce staff, or close their services as their hands are tied. The government needs to act now.”