Children from marginalized and disadvantaged backgrounds are being negatively impacted by the National Childcare Scheme, according to after-school service providers.
They say changes to funding structures under the scheme mean after-school programs have been hit by funding cuts and are facing closure.
The services offer children homework support and provide them with a hot meal.
Childcare and after-school service providers protested at Leinster House this morning to call for changes to the plan.
Unlike previous schemes, the NCS allocates more supports to working parents, meaning children with unemployed parents are missing out.
Mick Kenny from the Urlingford Community Childcare centre in Kilkenny says many services are struggling.
"I've spoken to many services, both community and private, that are nearly carrying the cost of the child."
"The lack of funding, we are still providing the meals, the family supports especially during the pandemic."
"It's gone past the breaking point."