Early Years staff hold nationwide work stoppage and call for Government investment

Leitrim Observer Reporter

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Leitrim Observer Reporter

How much do you pay for childcare in Leitrim?

There is a nationwide work stoppage planned for Early Years workers tomorrow.

Childhood Professionals are holding a national day of demonstration tomorrow (Friday, October 27th) – in protest at the lack of Government investment in the sector.

The Association of Childhood Professionals (ACP) said it was inviting employers, employees and parents to unite and support Friday’s action – giving a clear message to Government and opposition parties.

ACP said Ireland’s investment in early years services is almost one tenth of the recommended international level of 1% of GDP. As a result services are increasingly unaffordable for parents, unviable as careers for early years teachers and unsustainable for many providers.

ACP has 2,000 Members who manage, or work across the 4,500 early learning and childcare centres in the country.

Hundreds of early learning and care centres have signed up to close early – with each centre to decide on the specific time, as well as providing information to parents and viral campaigning.

The Association also invited other centres and professionals – who are non-members – to join the action, to give information to parents and to engage on social media.

ACP Chairperson Marian Quinn said exploitation of the sector has to stop noting: “Government policy exploits the early childhood education and care profession to deliver schemes on the ‘cheap’. The true cost is subsidised by the low wages of the early years teachers and an unsustainability faced by service providers.

“Unless we take action, and affect real change, we will continue to see highly qualified and experienced members of the profession leave their chosen career.”  

She also encouraged staff to talk with parents who may be frustrated by the action and to explain the reasons for the action.

“This collaborative action is being taken to secure better resources for childhood professionals who provide an essential public service, and to support the quality of early education and care provided to children.

“Without greater investment will see ongoing and increasing closures of services in local communities, as there is no sustainable economic model for them to serve the public with. None of these outcomes are good for children, parents, or members of the profession.

Ms Quinn said while the recent budget had made some allowances for the sector, these would not make any significant impact in addressing the problems faced.

“Budget 2018 saw an increase of 7% in the capitation grant provided for delivering the ECCE scheme which is to come into effect in September 2018 – the first increase since 2010.

“However, from 2010 to 2018 it is forecast that the minimum wage will have increased by 10.5%, insurance costs will have risen by double digit figures and utilities, rates, rents, etc. will have also have substantially increased, while inflation is forecast to have increased by just over 4%.

“This means that after the Budget increase, services next Autumn will still be significantly worse off compared to 2010. Early childhood education and care is increasingly unaffordable for parents, unviable as a career for early years teachers and unsustainable for providers.

“Early childhood education and care is a vital social infrastructure that is provided to support our youngest citizens. The benefits of this service are twofold – high quality early learning opportunities that support young children to achieve their full potential and childcare provision that enables parents to participate in the labour market,” she said.

Staging the national action ACP is calling for:

  • Increased investment so that the average pay moves to a living wage (€11.70) in the short term and to a professional wage within five years.
  • Increased investment to ensure sustainability for service providers. This includes increased capitation to meet the real cost of delivering a high quality service and an administration fee that covers the true cost of administrating schemes on behalf of government.
  • Increased investment so that professionals are paid for all aspects of their jobs – both contact and non-contact roles including observation, documentation, planning, cleaning and maintenance, multidisciplinary collaboration, inspection, staff meetings, CPD and meeting with parents, etc.