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Editorial: Staffing Crisis

February 1, 2018

What we have heard from our members during the month of January reinforces the findings of our recent staffing survey and Pobal’s latest sector profile: recruitment and retention of staff is now the main challenge facing the early years sector. We have heard daily from members that staffing issues are causing serious sustainability concerns in their services.

One childcare provider has been advertising a position in her service since December with no luck. The provider used to provide cover in the service but is now counted in the adult/child ratios required by law. The provider is facing the prospect of closing one of her ECCE rooms which currently has 10 children in it. Her CCC has told her there are no ECCE places available in the area.

Another member has been in touch to say she has been advertising a job in her service since Halloween and has received only two applications, neither of which was appropriate. The provider has cover for two more weeks after which she will have to close her service.

A third provider has a member of staff out on sick leave. She is struggling without success to find relief staff. The provider is due to get married soon and is now faced with the prospect of having to cancel her honeymoon as she will not have staff to cover in the service while she is away.

These examples are representative of larger issue. The situation is untenable for providers and will impact on families before long. Read our press release issued last week which calls for urgent and effective attention by government in consultation with the early years sector. The recruitment and retention of high-quality staff is a fundamental component in the delivery of a quality, affordable, and sustainable childcare system.

Recruitment difficulties are tied to challenging conditions within the sector. According to Pobal, half of all early years staff work on a part-time basis and the average wage within the sector is just €11.93 per hour. For more facts and figures see the third in our Summing It Up stats series which appears in this month’s Advocacy in Action and focuses on staff and wages in the sector. Our feature article this month also looks at Wages in the Early Years sector. We hope you enjoy this edition of Advocacy in Action.

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