The Policy Brief this week presents the main findings of the Annual Early Years Sector Profile Report 2019/2020, produced by Pobal on behalf of the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.
The Annual Early Years Sector Profile Report 2019/2020 has been recently published by Minister Roderic O’Gorman, T.D. The report is produced by Pobal on behalf of the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth and it provides a detailed overview of the Early Learning and Care and School-Age Childcare (ELC/SAC) sector in Ireland. The report is a very important monitoring instrument, assessing the impact of programme and policy change in the sector throughout the years – this is the eighteenth in the series.
The publication is based on data captured from two sources: the Annual Early Years’ Service Profile survey, completed by 65% of ELC and SAC services in June 2020, as well as Pobal’s administrative IT platforms. The survey was collected during an unusual and challenging period, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, when ELC and SAC providers were preparing to reopen. Despite the difficult circumstances, almost 3,000 providers completed the survey, demonstrating their commitment to provide evidence for policy making.
Some of the key findings include:
- During the 2019/2020 programme year, a total of 180,149 children were supported under at least one Government subsidy programme. A total of 53,513 children from 42,557 households received subsidies under the National Childcare Scheme, which launched on 20th November 2019.
- A total of 2,428 Early Learning and Care and School Aged Childcare services and 5,708 children with additional needs were supported under the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM). The number of services receiving support under AIM as well as the number of children receiving targeted supports has increased on the previous year, by 1.7% and 3.5% respectively.
- Fees have increased across all types of provision, but this rate of increase has been less than in previous years, at less than 1% across all types of provision. In 2019/2020, an average weekly fee for full time care was €186.12.
- It is estimated that 30,883 staff work in the sector, 85% of whom worked directly with children. This represents a slight increase of 0.3% on the previous year for numbers of staff working directly with children.
- The majority of staff (55%) have worked in their current service for four years or less, while 65% of staff worked five years or more in the ELC and SAC sector. This suggests significant levels of inter-service mobility within the sector.
- Wages of staff working in the ELC and SAC sector have increased year-on-year; however, the pace of growth is slow. The average hourly wage of childcare staff (excluding managers) in 2019/20 was €12.45, 4% higher than in 2018/2019.
- The level of staff qualifications has continued to grow steadily over the last few years, with 27% of staff working directly with children now holding a qualification at NFQ Level 7 or higher.
- The staff turnover in the sector decreased for two years in a row and in 2019/20 was 18%, down 7% from two years ago. Additionally, 5% more services retained all their staff (64%) compared to 2018/19.
For Early Childhood Ireland, the report is an invaluable resource that helps to illustrate the realities and challenges affecting our members. We look forward to seeing the 2020/21 Early Years Sector Profile report, which along with 2019/2020, will cover the COVID-19 period and allow us to understand the impact of the pandemic on settings.