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Early Childhood Ireland Response to RTÉ Investigates: Creches – Behind Closed Doors

Minister Zappone commits to carrying out independent review of cost of quality childcare

April 1, 2017

Minister Zappone commits to carrying out independent review of cost of quality childcare

 

We receive regular calls from services telling us that they don’t know if they’ll be able to open in September

 

1 April 2017

Photos from Fennell Photography

 

A root and branch review of the cost of providing quality childcare will be conducted in the coming months, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, TD has announced today (1 April).

Speaking at Early Childhood Ireland’s annual conference in UCD, Minister Zappone said the independent review will feed into future policy development and review of subsidy levels. She said it will be an important contributor to establishing a firm evidence base for investment by the State in both affordability and quality.

The Minister was speaking as Early Childhood Ireland launched research which shows that a chronic staffing crisis in the sector is leaving crèches and preschools struggling to survive due to the poor working conditions and low salaries afforded to staff.

Main findings of the research:

  • 86% of services said that they were concerned that problems recruiting and retaining staff will impact on the viability of their service
  • 36% of those who tried to recruit staff in the last twelve months were unable to find anyone suitable
  • 46% of those who did manage to recruit had to settle for someone with lower qualifications than they’d wanted
  • Of those who’ve had staff leave their service in the last 12 months, 57% cited working in the sector wasn’t financially viable as the reason
  • 25% said that they have had to or will have to let staff go due the introduction of the new minimum qualifications1
  • Overall, 49% of services were finding it difficult to retain staff
  • The sector had a turnover rate of 28.4% in the last 12 months

Early Childhood Ireland, CEO, Teresa Heeney said;
“The staffing crisis is putting the very survival of the sector in jeopardy. Early years care as a professional career choice is now under threat due to the low pay and precarious working conditions.

For instance, just this week, I learnt of yet another crèche closing as they simply couldn’t afford to keep their doors open. This not only impacts on staff who are out of a job, but on parents and most importantly on children.

Sadly, this isn’t an unusual occurrence. We receive regular calls from services telling us that they don’t know if they’ll be able to open in September.

Worryingly, I’m also aware of some services who are now facing the possibility of breaching the regulation relating to qualifications in order to maintain staff ratio levels. This situation is clearly untenable.

Parents need and demand a well-qualified early years workforce, this doesn’t come cheap and must be addressed.”

The average rate of pay for an early years educator working in Ireland is €10.27 per hour. Having a third level degree will earn you €1 extra per hour. According to the OECD, the average European family pays 17 per cent of household income on childcare. An Irish family pays an average of 34 percent. This is the second highest.

Early Childhood Ireland represents over 3,600 childcare members who support over 100,000 children and their families through preschool, afterschool and full daycare provision nationwide. Its work includes quality enhancement, publications, advocacy, training, business support and information for a sector that employs 25,000 people today.

ENDS

For further information
Contact
Daniel English, Early Childhood Ireland
Tel: 086 144 8768

Notes to editor
1. Minimum Qualification: From 31 December 2016, as stated in the Child Care Act (Early Years Services) Regulations 2016, all staff working directly with children must hold a minimum of QQI Level 5 Major Award in Early Childhood Care and Education.

This regulation will not apply to persons working in the sector who signed the grandfathering clause, before 30 June 2016, that stated he or she intends to retire from employment in a pre-school service before 1 September 2021.

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