The eyes of many parents and those running childcare services were on today's Budget announcement.
The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform said Budget 2022 marks a turning point in the State's approach to the early years and childcare sector.
Minister Michael McGrath announced that the Government will invest €716 million in childcare next year.
€78m will be provided for additional investment in core funding for the childcare sector and to reform the National Childcare Scheme.
However, childcare providers say it does not address affordability for parents or help future sustainability for childcare providers.
Childhood Services Ireland says that while longer subsidised hours of childcare and expanded access to subsidised childcare for working families and unemployed people are welcome measures, they do little to make childcare more affordable.
Budget 2022 allows for a new funding stream for up to 4,700 early years and childcare providers from September next year onwards at an estimated cost of €69m.
This has been welcomed by SIPTU, which represents approximately 6,000 educators, room leaders and managers in community and privately run Early Years education and childcare services.
Head of Strategic Organising and Campaigns Darragh O'Connor said poverty pay rates have been driving qualified Early Years educators out of their profession.
"Not only does this leave qualified professionals living in poverty, it has also caused a staffing crisis for services which has resulted in a reduction in the number of children that can be cared for".
To address affordability for parents, the National Childcare Scheme universal subsidy will be extended for children under 15 from September, benefiting up to 40,000 children at a cost of €5 million.
Childhood Services Ireland's Director Darragh Whelan has said extending the amount of subsidised childcare hours does nothing for parents who cannot afford childcare in the first place.
He said waiting lists are "already far too long" and there "aren't enough childcare places to meet demand".
While he welcomed the proposed funding for staff wages, he said, the investment "would have to be significant to reduce parental fees and ensure providers can afford to keep their doors open and the lights on".
Responding to Budget 2022 in the Dáil, Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty said families were being "fleeced by the cost of childcare", which is the most expensive in Europe.
He said Sinn Féin wanted a new model of public "accessible and affordable" childcare provision, with reduced fees "by a third in 2022, and by another third in 2023" and accused the Minister for Finance of making "a dogs dinner" of his party's policy.