Policy in Action 11 June 2024

Policy in Action 11 June 2024
4 Asks for Children – Early Childhood Ireland policy priorities

Early Childhood Ireland met with key policy makers recently to mark the launch of a new set of policy priorities for the Early Years and School Age Care sector. 4 Asks for Children calls for a radical new approach to Early Years and School Age Care by elevating this public good for children to the same status as primary education.

Meetings with key policy makers include members of the Oireachtas Committee on Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, political party spokespersons on Children, and party officials.

To elevate Early Years and School Age Care to the same status as primary education, Early Childhood Ireland has the following 4 Asks for Children:

 

1.     A Sustained and Sustainable Workforce
.

  A date should be set by government for bringing Early Years and School Age Care graduates within public sector pay and conditions in line with teachers.

  Implement the Continuous Professional Development actions in Nurturing Skills by 2030.

  Give statutory recognition to ‘non-contact time’ to support planning, reflective activities, documentation, and communications with parents.

 

2.     Capacity Planning
.

  Implement the Better Data recommendations from Partnership for the Public Good.

 Initiate a system of national and local 2-year and 5-year planning cycles, to ensure there are enough Early Years and School Age Care places, in settings and Childminders’ homes, for children in their own communities.

 

3.     5-year plan with a new investment target
.

✔  Publish a 5-year plan with a new investment target to ensure that the targets of the overarching Early Years and School Age Care policies (First 5, Nurturing Skills, Partnership for the Public Good) will be achieved by 2030.

  This 5-year plan must be achieved with comprehensive consultation with current providers, including childminders.

 

4.     Family Leave
.

  Guarantee 66 per cent of a parent/guardian’s income during the first year of a child’s life to enable them to stay at home during this crucial period.

 

New pay agreement for the Early Years and School Age Care workforce

A new Employment Regulation Order (ERO) for the Early Years and School Age Care sector has been agreed and will commence on Saturday, 24 June 2024. The ERO will increase the minimum hourly rates of pay for an estimated 33,000 educators.

The minimum hourly rates applicable from the 24 June 2024 are as follows:

  • Early Years Educators and School Age Childcare (SAC) Practitioners – €13.65
  • Lead Educators (Room Leaders) and School Age Childcare (SAC) Coordinators – €14.70
  • Graduate Lead Educators (Room Leaders) and Graduate School Age Childcare (SAC) Coordinators – €16.28
  • Deputy/Assistant Manager – €16.49
  • Centre Manager – € 17.33
  • Graduate Centre Manager – €18.11
Equal Start funding recipients to be notified in the coming weeks

The 800 Early Years and School Age Care services that will be included in the initial list of services to receive Equal Start funding will be notified of their status in the coming weeks, according to the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY), Roderic O’Gorman TD in a recent parliamentary question.

Equal Start is a new model of government-funded supports to ensure children experiencing disadvantage can access and meaningfully participate in Early Years and School Age Care.

These supports will fall in to three categories:

  • Universal supports available to all partner services,
  • Supports targeted at services with higher concentrations of disadvantage,
  • Individual children and families experiencing disadvantage.

The identification model for Equal Start takes not only the HP Deprivation Index but also individual children’s data into account. The Department recognises that not all children experiencing disadvantage live in areas on the HP Deprivation Index, therefore there are a variety of objective factors informing identification of children and services who require additional supports.

Read more about Early Childhood Ireland’s policy priorities and other policy positions on our website. You can also find out more about our work by contacting us at [email protected].

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