Full text of our letter to Frances Fitzgerald TD, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs:
Frances Fitzgerald TD
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs
43/49 Mespil Road
February 4, 2014
Dear Minister Fitzgerald,
I am writing to you on behalf of our 3,400 members across the country who are committed to improvement and quality, but who are deeply frustrated and angry by the systems and processes currently in place that hamper their ability to operate professionally and that fundamentally undermine their work.
The sector has adapted and stepped up to meet each new legislative and policy requirement, but is now palpably frustrated due to the culmination of unresolved issues, some of which are set out below:
- Repeated delays and shortfalls in payments (CCS), with significant discrepancies in expected levels of income
- Appeals for ECCE not being dealt with and members waiting for resolution of cases from last year
- Lack of timely notification of changes to schemes – changes are made to schemes without consultation or prior notice and new stipulations are continually added to contracts
- Higher capitation unresolved – people have recruited staff at Level 8 and are paying them higher salaries but no confirmation of higher capitation to services have been received
- Increased financial pressure on ECCE services, with the reinstatement of employers PRSI at 8.5%
- Services around the country are being subjected to re-valuation for commercial rates resulting in some very significant increases
- Lack of information regarding the Regulation Reform agenda, new inspection regime; inspection tool and registration requirements (even though services have effectively signed up to the Registration process)
- In relation to the new qualification requirements, a small but significant number of members with Montessori qualifications are currently in a limbo situation
- Grandfathering issue remains unresolved for those in the sector over a long period of time
- Withdrawal of capitation from services where children are not in attendance, for reasons absolutely outside of the control of the ECCE provider, e.g. children travelling abroad to visit family
- Challenges in recruiting suitable applicants for CE schemes; problems with Garda Vetting forms remaining in the ECCE service to ensure those settings are compliant; sustainability for community services where CE staff are part of the ratios and will not have the required qualification levels
- Delays in the Garda Vetting process which render services non-compliant for new and replacement staff while trying to maintain ratios; problems arising where HSE and Data Protection are issuing conflicting advice regarding GV for students on placement
- All of these issues confirm for our members their feeling of being disrespected and mistrusted, despite their delivery of Government programmes as well as their provision of a critical element of national infrastructure-early childhood education
These issues must be resolved at the earliest possible time to enable services confidently plan ahead, operate efficiently and to ensure that we have a system that is respectful of the workforce and fit-for-purpose.
Early Childhood Ireland is calling on the DCYA to:
- Review and improve the schemes across all strands as a matter of urgency
- Increase capitation rates which currently are insufficient to sustain services
- Improve communication, consult with the sector and flag up changes to schemes and contracts in advance.
Without these changes, services cannot plan effectively, manage sustainability or maintain compliance, all of which have repercussions on the quality of provision and practice. We in Early Childhood Ireland are committed to improving quality and want to actively shape a competent system that delivers for children and adults.
Chief Executive Officer