As part of our budgetary advocacy and policy work, Early Childhood Ireland has been tracking the publication of pre-budget submissions from various organisations to monitor support for the early years and School Age Care (EY/SAC) sector, in the lead up to Budget 2023. This is the third in a series of overviews of published submissions to date.
Now just three weeks away, Budget 2023 is an opportunity for Government to reaffirm vital commitments made in last year’s budget to prioritise the delivery of sustainable Early Years and School Age Care system for children, staff, parents, and providers. Early Childhood Ireland published our own Budget 2023 Submission: Time For Transformation in July. We called on the Government to announce an ambitious five-year plan of investment that includes key priorities and clear funding targets for each year to transform our invaluable early years and school age care sector.
This policy brief reviewing the submissions published by other organisations reasserts the shared understanding that increased public investment in early years and school age care should be a public and political priority.
Childhood Services Ireland (CSI)
CSI is the IBEC association representing Irish ‘childcare’ providers. In our last round up of submissions relating to the sector, we included a top line overview of the budget priorities they made available to the public before the publication of their Pre-Budget Submission. They have now published the document in full and what follows is a more detailed account of their budgetary asks for Early Years and School Age Care:
Amongst a suite of budgetary asks across multiple sectors, IBEC seeks targeted measures to meet big societal challenges in a variety of areas including ‘childcare’. To this end, IBEC is proposing that €167 million be spent on expanding access to early years and school age care. This tranche of funding should, in particular, provide for additional resourcing for children under three, both to provide extra places for these children and to increase subsidies for families with a view to bringing early years care back into reach for ‘squeezed middle income’ families. They also note the need to incentivise the provision of out-of-school hours care to provide services for parents who have non-standard work hours.
The lack of access to early years and school age care disproportionally impacts on women’s participation in the labour force. In light of this, they call for the following budgetary investments:
- Additional funding of €10 million to help providers meet inflation demands and hire the staff they need.
- The expansion of the €221m Core Funding stream by €20m to account for non-staff overheads costs.
- The tripling of the universal subsidy under the National Childcare Scheme from 50c per hour to €1.50 and increase the household income threshold for the targeted subsidy from €60,000 to €80,000.
- €70 million in capital grant funding to increase capacity in the early years and school age care sector.
SIPTU – Big Start Campaign
SIPTU, the Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union, represents many Early Years educators and managers. Their Big Start campaign seeks to achieve an Early Years sector that is high quality and accessible for all children, affordable for parents and sustainable for providers with professional pay and conditions for offered to all educators. Last week they delivered their Budget 2023 Submission to the Department of Children. They have not yet published their full Budget Submission document but have publicised their overarching asks for the sector.
Drawing attention to last year’s budget as a breakthrough moment for Early Years professionals, SIPTU calls on Government to continue on this trajectory by investing an additional €107m into the Early Years sector. This additional investment should be targeted to elevate levels of pay across the sector to bring all staff in line with Mercer Pay Scales. This should go some way toward addressing the staffing crisis in the sector and developing capacity for quality provision to children.
You can read our previous overviews of budgetary submissions here and here. Early Childhood Ireland will continue to analyse and report on further publications as they become available. If you have any questions, please contact our policy team.