Policy in Action 27 February 2024

Policy in Action 27 February 2024

Yesterday, we released the Early Childhood Ireland Barometer 2024. Now in its seventh year, the annual Barometer – based on a national opinion poll conducted by RED C – revealed broad public support for access to Early Years and School Age Care for all children. It also highlighted that over half of adults are in favour of improved pay and conditions for educators working in the sector.

Key findings:
  • 76 per cent of the Irish public agree that every child should be guaranteed access to high-quality, inclusive Early Years and School Age Care in their own community.
  • Over two-thirds (67 per cent) believe that education for children under five is as important as for those over five.
  • Almost three-quarters (74 per cent) think that Early Years education should be freely available to all children.
  • More than half (54 per cent) agree that Early Years and School Age Care staff with university degrees should have the same terms and conditions as primary school teachers.
  • 53 per cent think Government should pay the wages of crèche staff.
  • Almost two-thirds (62 per cent) say parents should be financially supported to stay at home for their child’s first year.
  • Over half (54 per cent) think that employers should be legally obliged to top-up new parents’ maternity and paternity benefits.
Comment

We’re seeing continued overwhelming public support for access to high-quality Early Years and School Age care for all children in our society and a substantial number of people (67 per cent) who value the education of children under five. This puts an onus on the current and on any future government to prioritise this vital area of children’s lives.

Three-quarters of the population also favour the free provision of Early Years education for all children. We could achieve this by transitioning to a fully publicly funded model of Early Years and School Age Care that would bring us in line with the best-in-class systems available in other countries.

The data also shows us the value people place on staff working in the sector, with more than half of those surveyed wanting to see crèche staff with university degrees granted the same terms and conditions as teachers. We need to see critical action taken to make significant and sustainable progress on the terms and conditions of the 30,000-strong Early Years and School Age Care workforce.

While it is very encouraging that the public strongly supports access to high-quality, inclusive Early Years and School Age Care for children in their community, there is currently no plan by the government to deliver this. We need significantly increased investment and a coherent 5-year plan to create a unified, publicly-funded model of Early Years and School Age Care that incentivises the recruitment and retention of a graduate workforce, is affordable and accessible for parents and – crucially – places children’s rights at its core. Doing so will put us further on the path to delivering a world-class system that Ireland’s children and families deserve.

  • The Early Childhood Ireland Barometer 2024 is available here.
Get in touch

If you have any questions or would like to know more about Early Childhood Ireland’s policy work, please do not hesitate to contact us at policy@earlychildhoodireland.ie

 

 

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