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Irish Early Years Sector leads the way in Supporting Children with Additional Needs

Government must prioritise childcare staff in Affordable Childcare investment

January 24, 2018

Early Childhood Ireland warns that staffing and recruitment within the early years sector remain at crisis levels

 

Ireland’s leading early years organisation, Early Childhood Ireland (ECI), welcomes the update on the implementation of the Affordable Childcare Scheme. This was provided by Minister for Children & Youth Affairs, Dr. Katherine Zappone TD, at the Oireachtas today.

The organisation commends the Minister for her continuing efforts to enhance accessibility for all children within the sector. It acknowledges the important progress made over the past year, including the announcement of an Independent Review into the Cost of Delivering Quality Childcare and an increase in ECCE capitation levels from September 2018.

While appreciating the complexity involved in bringing the Affordable Childcare Scheme to fruition and, particularly, in developing the IT infrastructure necessary to administer the scheme, ECI is disappointed that the scheme will not be ready for parents and providers in September 2018.

Commenting this afternoon, following Minister Zappone’s appearance before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Children & Youth Affairs, Frances Byrne, Director of Policy with ECI, said, ‘Recruitment and retention of staff is now the main challenge facing the early years sector. A recent national report from Pobal found that 47% of childcare services have experienced challenges in recruiting staff. Delays in recruitment can lead to significant difficulties for providers, who are required by law to maintain strict adult/child ratios within settings.’

She continued, ‘Staff turnover in the early years sector is at 28.2%, a figure significantly higher than the national average turnover rate across all sectors, which is 13%. This situation is untenable for providers and will impact on families before long.’

Recruitment difficulties are tied to challenging conditions within the sector which, as recognised by the Minister, continues to contend with historical underinvestment. 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. Research carried out by Early Childhood Ireland in 2017 found that 57% of settings had lost staff as working within the sector was not seen as financially viable.

Ms. Byrne concluded, ‘Since the beginning of 2018, ECI has received daily contact from members facing new recruitment issues. This requires urgent and effective attention by the 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.

Without immediate steps to address these staffing difficulties, Early Childhood Ireland fears that the vital Affordable Childcare Scheme, which the Minister is quite rightly championing, will flounder. Then children, their families, and communities will have been failed.’

For more information or media queries, please contact Grace Duffy on (01) 404 0644 or 086 1448768.

 

Note to editors

Early Childhood Ireland is the largest organisation in the early years sector. It represents 3,800 childcare members, who support over 100,000 children and their families through preschool, afterschool, and full day-care provision nationwide.

 

Ratio Requirements

The 2016 Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) Regulations (p. 48) requires that the following ratios be maintained in early years settings:

 

 

 

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