Early Childhood Ireland’s Budget 2022 submission was published in July and can be accessed here. In sum, we called the government to meet the commitment in the national early years strategy, First 5, to at least double investment by 2028. Since then, various organisations have published their Budget submissions, in which they make a series of proposals as to how public finances should be allocated in 2022.
There is a wide understanding that increasing investment in Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare (ELC/SAC) should be a priority, as shown by the following examples:
- “Increase investment in childcare services, early education infrastructure and schools that are reopening to facilitate breakfast clubs and after school childcare in all parts of the country to help working parents and mitigate against the reduction in supply of childcare places that has arisen from Covid-19.” (Chambers Ireland)
- “Investing in quality public services including housing, childcare, education, and transport that support the well-being of people, society and the economy.” (Society of St. Vincent de Paul)
- “The Government should abandon those plans [for tax cuts] and prioritise spending on public services — including early years care, education, health, water and housing.” (ICTU)
Some organisations suggested more specific measures regarding how the additional funding should be allocated:
- “Social Justice Ireland proposes that Government allocate €36m in Budget 2022, to bring spending in this area to 0.5% of GDP, and build on this investment each year to reach 1% of GDP by 2026. This investment must include non-contact ECEC time (…) €30m to ensure childcare workers are paid a living wage.”
- “We are calling on Government to invest an additional €115,000,000 in NCS universal subsidies between 2022 and 2025; an additional €75,000,000 in the ECCE rates between 2022-2025 (…); an additional €47,000,000 in Programme Support Payments for the NCS to reflect the actual time spent administering the scheme.” (Childhood Services Ireland IBEC)
- “Investing an additional €75 million to improve pay for early years professionals;
invest €75 million in affordability measures (…) We need a new public service model that places the rights of children and the needs of families at its heart. Funding such a model must be based on staffing grants, similar to the current Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS). The full year cost in 2022 would be €150 million. This is significantly less than the €500 million the Government is already committed to in additional investment.” (Siptu)
If you are interested in reading them, links to the full documents are provided above. Early Childhood Ireland has been tracking those submissions to monitor social opinions and support for a more sustainable future for the ELC/SAC sector. We will keep members informed about the latest policy developments. If members have any questions, please contact our policy team.