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One in 10 Services Predicting Closure

July 8, 2015

With one in 10 services predicting closure and 92% of early childhood educators calling for the free preschool capitation fee to be raised from €62.50 per week to €75 or over, sustainability is major red flag issue in the early childhood education sector, according to Early Childhood Ireland survey

 

“Proposed increase in child benefit should be diverted into direct investment into service provision” says CEO of Early Childhood Ireland

 

One in 10 early childhood education services report that they won’t reopen this September 2015 while nearly 50% have fewer children starting this September than started in September 2014. 92% are calling for the ECCE capitation grant to be raised from €62.50 per week to €75 or over.

 

This is according to Early Childhood Ireland’s latest survey involving 402 (11%) of its members running crèches and preschools nationwide, which raises red flag issues in relation to service closures, capitation levels that are too low and displacement due to oversupply and bad planning which must be addressed.  The survey was conducted last month (June 2015) with the 402 respondents breaking down into 46% rural and 54% urban.

 

The Early Childhood Ireland survey, published today (Wednesday 8th July) also highlights that:

 

  • 47% of participants say their area is oversupplied with childcare places, 22% of whom describe it as ‘very oversupplied’, indicating future closures.
  • A majority 79% say that current building legislation, requiring that one crèche is built for every 75 new houses, should be removed.
  • 88% say that new services should produce evidence of need and demand in the local community before being allowed to open.
  • 72% say if the government introduces a new ECCE programme over 48 weeks they would participate, while a very significant 27% say they won’t.
  • Over 80% would be willing to adhere to salary scales, if they are introduced.
  • A whopping 98% say that the sector should be consulted, similar to GPs on free GP care for under 6s, on terms of any new Government programme.

 

According to Teresa Heeney CEO of Early Childhood Ireland: “In Ireland, we continue to be rich on policies and poor on implementation and it is our members up and down the country who are expected to implement programmes such as the ECCE scheme, the capitation for which is simply too low and seriously eroding sustainability.  92% of our members believe a fair basic capitation grant for the ECCE programme per week should be €75 or more, again showing that the current rate of €62.50 is far from fair.  €75 was the most common fee for preschool across the country prior to the ECCE scheme. The Government must recognise that it needs to work in partnership with early childhood education operators if it wants to implement existing and new programmes. Partnership involves respectful levels of capitation and policies which do not undermine sustainability.

 

“We are concerned about this pre budget kite flying suggesting an increase of €5 per child on child benefit as an answer.  That total proposed increase on child benefit diverted into service provision would have huge, positive impact, short and long term, propelling Ireland towards where we should be in terms of our investment in the provision of quality early childhood education.  What we need is radical reform, not more tinkering around the edges or vote grabbing initiatives with no real long term benefit.  This Government must make choices in the next budget which will have a long lasting impact on Irish children, families and early childhood educators.”

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