The latest news and information

Shared Delivery Models for Early Learning and Care and School-Age Childcare

ELC and SAC Funding Models which Support Provision Quality

May 17, 2021

On April 16, Frontier Economics published three more research papers to inform the development of a new funding model for Early Learning and Childcare and School Age Childcare in Ireland. The consultancy has been commissioned by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY) to provide research support to an Expert Group that was tasked to deliver a report containing proposals for a new funding model. This week, The Big Picture provides an overview of Working Paper 7.

The aims of the paper are twofold: to provide a high-level description of the features of high-quality ELC/SAC provision; and to identify which features of quality are amenable to being resourced through a funding model. The methodology is based on desk-based research followed by interviews with key informants. Information about 16 countries and jurisdictions was reviewed.

The analysis identified a broad range of policies, which were categorised into five groups based on the quality element that they seek to influence.

  • Workforce skills: policies to improve workforce skills through employment-related training, continuing professional development (CPD) and employment retention.
  • Working conditions: policies to improve workforce conditions by raising demand for more-qualified staff, increasing wages, and improving career profiles and status.
  • Curriculum: broadly defined as policies to improve practice, including use of approved curricula, inspection requirements and lower child-to-staff ratios.
  • Collaboration: policies to encourage settings to work with each other, other organisations and parents.
  • Devolved quality choice: policies that devolve the choice of quality target and policy approach to lower levels of government or administration.

Funding strategies for each one of the five groups were also mapped.

  • Workforce skills: (1) incentivising post-secondary educational courses, which may be combined with (2) retention bonuses for staying in the same job or in the field, and (3) incentivising CPD, which may include (4) on-site specialists in settings.
  • Working conditions: Almost all of the policies revised supporting working conditions focused on improving staff qualifications or pay. In addition, those policies were dominated by eligibility requirements or funding premiums for public subsidies or free places.
  • Curriculum: Most of the policies identified are requirements for broader public funding and operate alongside other requirements on staff qualifications or pay.
  • Collaboration: Very few policies explicitly supporting collaborative approaches were identified.
  • Devolved quality choice: There are relatively few cases where decisions about supporting quality are devolved and there is no evidence on whether devolving these choices leads to better support approaches.

The authors conclude that the quality features which appear to be most amenable to being resourced and/or required through funding models are elements relating to staff, including qualification levels, CPD/training and pay. Some lessons for Ireland are also drawn, including that addressing pay can only be successful if sufficient funding is used to create a substantial financial lever.

The report highlights the centrality of workers’ pay to improve quality; however, the importance of having structured and stable careers, with access to benefits and social recognition is downplayed. Nordic regimes, for example, are at the forefront of safeguarding workers’ rights and it is no coincidence that they are also known to have the best ELC/SAC systems in the world for children.

Early Childhood Ireland will continue to analyse Frontier Economics’ reports in the coming weeks.

Share share share share
Tags: , , , , , ,
Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine