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ECI Reaction to Report on Working Conditions

July 27, 2017

Reaction from Early Childhood Ireland to report & recommendations on the Working Conditions of the Early Years Education and Care sector from the Joint Committee on Children & Youth Affairs

Commenting from Leinster House today Frances Byrne, Director of Policy and Advocacy at Early Childhood Ireland said:

“If implemented, these recommendations would be transformative and help Ireland to deliver high quality and affordable early education and care to our youngest and most important citizens.

“In parallel, we fully acknowledge the difference this would make to educators who are the essential deliverers of quality education to children. This issue of working conditions and staffing is a key challenge facing the early years sector in Ireland and it impacts on both quality and sustainability.

“Regarding the specific recommendation to ‘Reduce worker/child ratios from 1:11 to 1:9’, we agree as stated in the report that this would assist in early identification of problems and pay off in long run for the State, for families and for children and we welcome this. In fact, many Early Childhood Ireland members report that they already operate a ratio of 1 to 8.

“The implementation of this and other recommendations would cost money but this is inevitable as Ireland is about half-way behind the OECD recommended investment of 1% of GDP.

“As the leading early years organisation in Ireland, Early Childhood Ireland very much welcomes this Joint Oireachtas Committee Report and its timing is important, coming in time for the October budget negotiations. We hope to see substantial progress on its recommendations in Budget 2018. We wish to also congratulate Kathleen Funchion TD as the rapporteur of this Report.”

Ends.

Further information: Frances Byrne 086 143 8680 or Carmel Doyle 087 247 3537

 

 

Editor’s notes –
Early Childhood Ireland represents 3,600 childcare members who support over 100,000 children and their families through preschool, afterschool and full day-care provision nationwide.

RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE JOINT COMMITTEE ON CHILDREN AND YOUTH AFFAIRS –

The Joint Committee on Children and Youth Affairs recommends that the following measures are taken:

  • Carry out, as a matter of priority and urgency, a nation-wide independent cost review of the entire sector so that an accurate calculation of finances can be provided to ensure the overall sustainability of the sector and the provision of high quality accessible education and care in both rural and urban areas;
  • Publish and roll out the Early Years Strategy to avoid further fragmentation of the sector – This strategy must be widely consulted with the sector and cannot be rushed, however, this piece of work should be made a matter of immediate priority;
  • Develop a plan over a period of time to Introduce working terms and conditions on a par with the rest of the education system;
  • Commission the development of a nationally agreed pay scale for the early years workforce linked to the Occupational Role Profiles that recognises qualifications, experience and length of service. The living wage should be a guideline as a starting point. Introduce pay scales that have base-line qualification requirements and ensure higher capitation rates are passed on to staff through an agreed salary scale that reflects qualifications;
  • Ensure Non-Contact time apportioned to hours worked by staff to facilitate obligations around record keeping, observations, planning and team meetings is a contractual and paid condition of work;
  • Consult with the sector now about future investment; find out from staff first-hand what would assist the sector most and where to prioritise that funding;
  • Introduce a capitation rate for the under 3 year olds that will support and ensure services keep these rooms open for the youngest children;
  • Address the issue of commercial rates for private services. Providers should not have to pay rates for non-profit making rooms (e.g. ECCE Programme rooms where fees are capped by DCYA and capitation paid by DCYA; also sleeping rooms that are required for babies);
  • Fund extra payment for additional time needed for preparation of new ACS 2017;
  • Increase the number of paid weeks for ECCE staff in the year, and introduce an agreed length of paid summer leave;
  • Allow self-employed providers to sign-onto the Live Register during summer months, while working towards the implementation of 52-weeks working contracts, allow self-employed providers to sign-onto the Live Register during summer months;
  • Create an immediate Learner Fund specifically to support higher level qualifications (NFQ 7 and above) to support on building on the current 37% graduate level workforce (Pobal 2016) to 70% over the next 5 years;
  • Ensure that there are sufficient places available on part-time courses so that the early years workforce can combine work and study while progressing to levels 7 and above on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF);
  • A system of Recognition for Prior Learning (RPL) should be in place to recognise and reward the skills base developed by staff working in the sector over a number of years who require formally recognised qualifications;
  • Introduce a system whereby there is a panel of relief staff in every constituency and anchored by the CCCs; and provide additional funding to the CCCs in order to operate this;
  • Reduce worker/child ratios from 1:11 to 1:9 – this would assist in early identification of problems and pay off in long run for the State;
  • Streamline the inspections system and ensure consistency in the checklist of inspectors’ expectations;
  • Develop a passport-style system for Garda vetting that is employee focused rather than service focused; and
  • Create a long-term vision for the sector. Devise an early years road-map to form part of the wider, and long anticipated ‘national strategy’. The sector must be widely consulted with for this piece of work, and such consultation cannot be rushed.

 

Read the full report.

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