Tuesday, 27 September 2022
Early Childhood Ireland commends Government for meeting €1 billion investment target
“An important day for young children as government pledges €1 billion funding in 2023.” That’s according to Early Childhood Ireland, the leading organisation in the Early Years sector, in response to news of an increase of €346 million in funding for next year.
Teresa Heeney, CEO of Early Childhood Ireland, said: “We welcome the news that parents will see a 20 to 25 per cent reduction from January 2023. A national communications plan to promote this scheme to parents must be forthcoming. Neither parents nor operators can afford to work from one Budget to the next. We hope to see further details from the Minister for Children and we will be reinforcing to him, the need for a long-term investment plan with new funding targets which will move Ireland to Nordic levels of investment.”
Ireland has lagged at the bottom of international public investment tables for decades, and this legacy of under-investment has had a severe impact. Parents in Ireland pay some of the highest fees from take-home pay in the European Union. Operators, overly dependent on these fees, have managed precariously in a complex and fragile funding environment.
“We are still awaiting the details of how this money will be allocated and what it will mean for Early Years and School Age Care settings throughout Ireland.”
As Minister McGrath noted, the recent introduction of an Employment Regulation Order set baseline wages for the staff who provide high-quality care and education to our youngest citizens. These rates are welcome, but they are a first step. Investment will be required to continuously enhance these rates to properly recognise the importance of this vital workforce. We call on the government to implement Nurturing Skills, the sector’s workforce plan. We also await details on the government’s additional proposals including on the issue of the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) which needs to be extended beyond the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme.”
Earlier this year, Early Childhood Ireland called on Government to transform the Early Years and School Age Care system by including an ambitious five-year investment plan in Budget 2023. This plan should include new funding targets and key priorities for each year to ensure that the Government achieves its goal of doubling investment in our sector by 2028.
Early Childhood Ireland’s 2023 Budget submission is available here.