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National Strategy for Women and Girls 2017-2020 - ECI Advocacy in Action

ECI Advocacy in Action

May 9, 2017

National Strategy for Women and Girls 2017-2020

Recognition that investment in the sector is essential to quality affordable childcare

In January 2017, ECI made a submission to the Department of Justice and Equality consultation on the new National Women’s Strategy 2017-2020.  Given that women make up the vast majority of the early childhood care and education (ECE) workforce, and that women are typically the main carers of children, our submission contended that both cohorts of women are specifically disadvantaged by the State’s failure to properly invest in the ECE sector.  On Wednesday 3rd May, the new bold and ambitious National Strategy for Women and Girls 2017-2020 was published.  ECI was delighted to see several of our recommendations reflected in the Strategy, not least the need to conduct and publish an independent review of the cost of providing quality childcare in private and community settings, consistent with the principle of ongoing professionalisation of the sector.  We had raised this in the context of the new Affordable Childcare Scheme being developed and costed in the absence of this essential review, committed to in May 2016 under the Programme for Partnership Government.  It appears in the Strategy as a means of ‘information gathered to support Government investment in childcare’.  It is a very significant recognition that affordable childcare for parents, which is essential to advance socio-economic equality for women, requires the State to firstly, know how much it costs to provide quality childcare and secondly, to invest in the sector accordingly.  It is notable that there was no such recognition in the previous National Women’s Strategy 2007-2016.

 

The Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) is rightly identified in the lead in commissioning the independent review and the time scale given is 2018.  ECI maintains that the review, which will be the key tool informing future funding and development of childcare policy is already long overdue.  We are calling on DCYA to expedite the process and to ensure it looks at the variations that impact the cost of quality childcare provision like: community/private; geography; disadvantage and future cost pressures such as wages.  For more information on ECI’s positon please see recommendations 2 and 7 in the Executive Summary of Doing the Sums: The Real Cost of Providing Childcare.

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