Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Childcare – A Bad Job?


Tuesday 06 March 2018

The phrase ‘I love my job’ is one you’ll often hear from Childcare Practitioners. It’s a feeling I share, I find my job very rewarding. It’s a privilege to be trusted with the care and education of Children under 5. I take my job seriously, I’m a professional, I’ve earned an education and my years of experience are invaluable. The Early Childhood Ireland Childcare Barometer (2018) on public attitudes to Childcare shows that 75% of people agree that my job is as important as those educating children over 5, it also states that 56% of people believe I am a professional.

Early Childhood Ireland Childcare Barometer 2018 - Childcare – A Bad Job

Results from Early Childhood Ireland Childcare Barometer 2018


Despite this, I am brutally aware of the low status of my low paid job. A report on precarious work (Congress, 2017) discusses low status work and its negative effects and consequences for people, and society. It differentiates between good and bad jobs; a good job has a permanent contract, a pension plan, sick pay, funded training and an incremental salary. A bad job has none of those things. It’s a harrowing feeling when you realise that being a Childcare Practitioner is a Bad Job.


These bad jobs are not the fault of our employers, who do their best to be fair to staff, while trying to balance the books. Ireland has the most underfunded Childcare system in Europe at 0.1% GDP (Social Justice Index, 2017) with the European average being 0.8% GDP. The knock-on effect of this underfunding for our 23,500 person sector (Pobal, 2017) is in my opinion 23,500 bad jobs. A report entitled ‘Who Cares?’ (Congress, 2016) described the Irish Childcare Sector as being amongst the worst paid in Europe due to policy failure on a major scale.


A report by Urban (2017) acknowledges the constant and substantial policy changes over the past two decades, in the Childcare Sector. Despite this transformation of the sector, Childcare Practitioners are still struggling to find a professional identity, the report (ibid) suggests that this is a consequence of a sector that is fragmented, and a workforce that are disempowered due to being undervalued, who do not have a sense of being professional because of low pay.

Early Childhood Ireland Childcare Barometer 2018 - Childcare – A Bad Job

Results from Early Childhood Ireland Childcare Barometer 2018


Our work is vital; we are part of the scaffold that holds up the economy. Despite this we are a largely invisible sector, we are not recognised or properly remunerated for the work we do. Lynch (2014) calls this indirect Affective Inequality, our needs as workers who are in a caring profession are neglected, we are not recognised economically, politically or socially for the essential work we do.  We are not offered the opportunity to take part in the future direction of our sector because our voice is omitted from the political arena, and for as long as this remains the case we will suffer from low pay, undervaluing of our work and a lack of recognition.


This needs to change, we need a plan; we need to get our voices heard. Organisations like Early Childhood Ireland have done good work to gain recognition and now we need to back this up by unionising. Our own Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone has gone on public record to support a move towards a properly paid, recognised and valued sector. In Dail Eireann 05/07/17; at the Kennedy Summer School 07/09/17; and in Seanad Eireann 04/10/17; the Minister offered us an open door that only needs to be pushed. She stated if she were a Childcare worker she would join a Union, and this would lead to greater investment and a proper pay scale for the sector.


I have spent 11 years in the Childcare sector, I have a Saturday job, I’ve invested thousands in my education, I spend each Summer on the dole. I’m not the only one, there are many in my position. I’m tired of polite suggestions that I should apply for jobs outside the sector now that I have my qualifications. I’m upset when I hear about people in the sector being denied mortgages and loans because of their precarious job. I’m deflated when I hear about owners who don’t take a wage in order to keep their childcare service open, these owners who unjustly cannot access social welfare during the summer. I’m astounded when I hear about people jumping out of planes or selling calves at the mart to raise funds to stay open.


I would like to feel proud of my job. I’d like to sit with a friend for coffee, or go to a school reunion, or an occasion with relatives; and for people to say fair play you fell on your feet there, what a great job. To everyone in Early Years we need to support each other, we need to sustain the sector we love, we need to work together to turn bad jobs into good jobs.



Deborah Reynolds is a Playschool Leader in Kilkerrin Community Playschool, a play-based service in East Co. Galway. Deborah has qualifications in Childcare, Fine Art and Forest School, she recently graduated from Athlone IT with a Level 7 in EYCE. She is currently completing the LINC course and she is on the National Committee for the Big Start Campaign. Her main influence in Childcare has been her Mum, Therese. Therese planted the seeds of a play-based approach that have firmly taken root. 

0 comments Comments

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

National Annual Awards 2020(1) Design(1) Magda Gerber(1) College(1) Equality(1) friendships(1) emotions(2) Lego(2) National Holiday(1) Early Childhood Ireland(10) University(1) Maternity Leave(1) refugees(1) Christmas Creativity(2) Rich Documentation(1) Affordability(1) child-centred approach(1) Care routines(1) Educators(2) Participation(2) Dance(1) Health(2) Budget 2018(1) worldbookday(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) Vertical grouping(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Arlene Forster(1) Socioemotional development(1) TRAP(1) risky play(2) Brain(1) learning hub(2) linc(1) Running(1) risk assessment(1) Identity(5) Pen green(1) Children's Research Network(2) Children's Book Club(1) Wonder(1) Touch(1) Inclusion(3) QRF(1) Story(2) Seanchaí(1) Learning Story(1) HR(1) ECCE(7) june29(1) Thank you(1) Kindness Challenge(1) Workplace Relations(3) Laughter(1) Skillnet(1) Scents(1) COVID-19 crisis(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) early year’s classrooms(1) Death(2) Covid-19 lockdown(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Mo Scéal(1) Norway(2) scientific and artistic processes(1) Summer(2) ECIAwards20(1) an post(1) Mark Twain(1) child safeguarding(1) Policy(2) Playdough(1) United Nations(1) mental health problems(1) COVID-19(18) Funding(1) Sculptures(1) UK Government(1) Magnavacchi(1) Autism(4) purpose(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Identity and Belonging(4) Inter-generational learning(2) Pobal sector profile(1) Pre-School Services(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) meals(3) Proceedings Journal(1) Inspired Practice Award(6) timekeeping skills(1) aistear blog(3) play pods(2) Playschool(1) animals(2) Scéalta Blog(106) Learning journals(1) Grief(1) Music(3) Return to Work Training(1) Super Shed Stories(2) NAEYC(1) ELC(1) play stories(2) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Mixed age groups(3) social media policy(1) Intention(1) National Awards 2018(2) ReCreate(2) Síolta(139) Time(1) collaboration(1) World Health Organisation(1) dining experiences(1) Children's Rights(3) Loving Relationships(2) Fire Safety(1) Covid response(2) Culture(2) Mount Everest(1) apps for children(1) Exclusion(1) Mantra(1) Builders(1) reopening ireland(1) quarantine kids(1) The Jelly King(1) Digital Devices(1) code of ethics(1) New Appointments(1) online training(1) Maths(6) dublin(2) Awards Night(1) curiosity(3) budget(1) Winter(1) experience(1) Self-regulation(1) Motor neuron disease(1) First 5 strategy(1) Women(1) INTO(1) Irish guidelines(1) play pod(1) UNICEF report(1) play therapy(1) Nutrition(1) Self-Esteem(1) Twitter(1) Magic(1) learning bias(1) Biting(1) Learning Journal(2) trust(4) Fantasy play(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) TOY Programme(1) Fabric(1) Appreciation(1) guardian(1) ERASMUS+(3) Reggio Children Network(1) GoToMeeting app(1) Frustrations(1) documentation(4) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Cork(1) Support(1) learning(19) Gratitude(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) Maria Montessori(1) Online(1) RTE Investigates(1) man up(1) Universal Design(2) Research Conference 2019(1) Line-ups(1) Research Seminar(1) Vietnam(1) gender stereotype(1) routine(2) Snacks(1) Traditions(2) iOS(1) Afghanistan(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) National Childcare Scheme(1) value(1) continual professional development(1) San Miniato(4) story time(2) scéalta(58) play(37) Family(1) Document Learning(1) Children and families(2) National Research Conference 2019(1) Mud kitchens(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Eritrea(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) Leprechauns(1) education(2) STEAM(1) Pedagogy(2) communication(4) outdoor space(3) Adoption(1) Graduate(1) grandchild(1) Quality(4) Mental Health(4) Exploring(1) Irish(1) preschools(1) Impact(1) ICBN(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) research(8) Valentine's Day(3) CCTV(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) E.coli(1) annual conference(1) reopening(1) bonds(1) Cognitive development(1) Visual Impairment(1) UNCRC(2) Maths Week(1) Window(1) Study Trip(1) EECERA(1) Buddy Bench(1) EM Standing(1) Maynooth University(2) Degree(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) partnership with families(1) ECEC(4) early childhood(1) overhear(1) under 3's(3) Administrative Burden(1) Primary School(3) Syria(1) Interactions(3) bloom app(1) Care-giving routines(1) early life(1) European Project(1) Early Years Educators(3) Fee Play(1) Obesity(1) School Age Childcare(2) mushrooms(1) democratic citizens(1) Children(8) Challenges(1) Snakes(1) Orla Kenny(1) Environment(2) phone apps(1) Trade Unions(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Investment(2) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) conversations(1) Our Little Seed(1) Jenga(1) Potential(1) Leaders in Practice(1) Behaviour(3) dining(1) pablo(1) Child Care(1) Learning through Storytelling(2) toddlers(3) SAC(1) Sleep(1) educating(1) outdoor environment(1) National Pyjama Day(1) Buddies(1) emotional well-being(1) Anxiety(2) Reggio Emilia(2) Patterns(1) World book day(1) Creativity(7) Visitors(1) Mindfulness(3) Educator of the Year Award(3) Iraq(1) Training(3) Human Resources(1) Exploratory Play(1) AIM(2) MECPI(1) relationships(18) parents(7) Workforce(1) International Narratives(1) stories(3) preschool(4) PIP(1) Early Years Education(1) Croatia(1) Celebrations(4) Facebook(1) Kids Own(1) Wesco(1) eating(1) ears(1) playleader(1) Awards(2) risk(2) Sustainability(3) Budget 2020(1) awards 2020(1) Treasure(1) Diversity(1) Masterclass(2) Infectious diseases(1) Photographs(1) Margy Whalley(1) education system(1) movement behaviours(1) Universal Design Guidelines(1) Scéalta Book Review(1) homeschool(1) Upcycling(1) Early Years(1) Recycle(1) Self Help Skills(1) Oireachtas(1) Thinking(1) Digital(1) Performing(1) Inspiring Practice(1) Wendy Lee(4) responsive relationships(1) Kilkenny(1) Imagination(3) Blocks(1) UD(1) Adverse Childhood Experiences(1) Trick or treat(1) Inspirational(2) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Anthony Semann(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) Teamwork(1) Book Club(2) Leadership for INClusion in the Early Years(1) Independence(1) community(5) women in research(1) Map(1) blog(56) DCYA(6) listening(1) Maynooth(1) books(5) show and tell(1) learners(1) Large Doll Play(1) Reopening Childcare(1) healthy eating policies(1) Recycling(2) upskilling(1) interacting(2) Sustainable(1) Favouritism(1) Gardening(1) ECEC Setting(2) Maths Week Ireland(1) Through the looking glass(1) annual awards(1) Celebrate(1) supportive environments(2) social media(2) Engagement(1) European Early Childhood Education Research Association(2) National Early Childhood Research Conference(2) Book Review(1) Plants(1) Your place(1) Event Guide(1) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) Graduation(1) Effect of Lockdown(1) UN(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) Academics(1) Liz Kerrins(1) Academic Skills(1) Nonverbal(1) reading(6) Shoes(1) food(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) early years settings(1) science week(2) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Engineering Ireland(1) Decision Making(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) Names(1) journey(1) code of professional responsibility(1) Confidence(1) Technology(3) inspiring interactions(1) memories(1) Small World Play(1) Role play(1) Employee(1) Interests(1) child-centric(1) Love(3) Italy(1) TUSLA(1) RIE philosphy(1) peer group(1) Pretend Play(1) Body Language(1) coronavirus(1) Penguins(1) Decisions(1) Consent(1) early childhood ireland research(1) Stress(2) Little Buddies(1) Flowers(1) Children's Voice(1) child led(1) Halloween(2) Inter-generational(2) Early Childhood Education(1) Aistear(132) Spiders(1) Painting(1) Mealtimes(1) babies(7) Emergent Curriculum(1) youdoodle(1) Prexit(1) Snack Time(1) Limerick(1) Glitter(2) Interaction(1) children development(1) Childhood(2) CIT(1) gender bias(1) Iceland(2) Confident(1) Meal time(1) Staff Motivation(1) Sociodramatic play(1) lockdown(1) Seas Suas(1) role playing(1) emotional environment(2) science(3) Treasure Chest(1) Trigonometry(1) Japan(1) Youtube Series(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Traffic Lights(1) Siolta blog(8) Storytelling(8) Online Research Symposium(3) Advocacy(1) Community involvement(1) NCCA(4) Kerry(1) art of the relationship(1) conference(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) Elders(1) Loss(1) Queues(1) Workplace well-being(1) Social Skills(1) Budget 2019(2) Light table(1) Easter(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Certificate(1) Communicating(1) structure(1) Early Learning and Care(2) Learning Stories(9) Empathy(1) Party(1) Hand Hygiene(2) Engineers Week(2) baby room(1) Belonging(3) christmas(9) childcare services(1) Looking Forward(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) Sport(1) Albert Einstein(1) Games(2) Inspections(1) Pobal(1) Communications(1) Reading Time(2) educarer(1) Yoga(1) imotion(1) Exercise(1) Mathematicians(1) staying connected(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Tuscan Approach(2) CPD(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) Department of Education and Skills(1) STEM(3) pets(1) keezy(1) SPICE Framework(1) Malaguzzi(1) Xbox(1) Regulation 23(1) social science(1) Unesco(1) Reggio(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) Performance Management(1) Looking Back(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) creche(1) Titles(1) Wilenski(1) preschool settings(1) outdoor play(7) Kindness(1) Shapes(2) Giraffe(2) curriculum(7) Home Corner(1) Laugh(1) Trauma-Sensitive(1) multi-generational community(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) feisty(1) UK(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) racism(1) Leadership(1) Leargas(1) development(9) Child mental health(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Qualifications(1) early years research(3) Montessori(3) dogs(1) Building Resilience(1) COVID(3) DES Inspection(1) children’s learning(1) Plastic(1) COVID-19 Reopening(2) Sequins(1) Creative(1) Routines(2) Smiles(1) Mayo(1) life long learning(1) Professionalisation(5) MA(1) Trade union(1) Sessional service(1) Engineering(3) Meet the Members(1) The Play and Learning in the Early Years(1) Arithmetic(1) AsIAm(2) Covid pandemic(3) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Feeding(1) research submissions(1) Counting(1) transitions(10) Covid19 crisis(1) quarantine(2) maternity health(1) natural environment(1) Awards 2019(1) behavioural science(1) Rituals(1) IGL(1) The Lullaby Book(1) early childhood educator(2) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) early years learning(1) Relaxation(1) Inspired Practice Awards(1) Breathing(2) Positivity(1) Settling in(4) COVID-19 landscape(1) Childcare(3) Competent(1) Exit interview(1) Art(6) democracy(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) Nordic model(1) EECERA 2016(1) built environments(1) Capable(1) developing motor skills(1) National Awards 2019(1) Ariana Pucci(1) Weather(1) Infection Control(1) family time(1) Change(1) outdoors(4) Arts(1) Time Out(1) respect(5) Thanks(1) Nuturing interactions(1) Santa(2) Opportunities(1) Ceremony(1) Pedagogical leaders(1) Síolta QAP(1) Well-Being(10) Aldo Fortunati(4) Growing up Outdoors(2) First 5 transitions for children award(1) Supernanny(1) keep in touch(1) Drawing(2) listen(1) GDPR(1) Awards 2018(3) worries(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) Sweets(1) environments(1) Reflective Practice(1) Learning Stories Award(3) Bereavement(2) Europe(1) partnership(1) First 5(1) Whole Group(1) presentation skills(1) Family wall(1) planning(1) Learning Story Awards(2) Wrapping paper(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) primary education(1) Return to Work(1) Craft(1) Horizon 2020(1)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine