Ireland’s youngest citizens have a right to quality education and care, and it is the responsibility of every elected representative to stand up for that right. That’s the message which Early Childhood Ireland is sending to TDs and Senators as they return to Dáil Éireann this week.
Calling for cross-Party and Independents’ commitment to transform the early years sector, Early Childhood Ireland will facilitate meetings between their members and local TDs in advance of Budget Day. The organisation works in partnership with 4,000 members nationwide.
It is calling on members of the Oireachtas to ensure their youngest constituents are guaranteed the same right to quality, accessible education and care that their European peers enjoy.
Commenting today (17.09.23) ahead of the Dáil’s reopening, Frances Byrne, Director of Policy at Early Childhood Ireland, said any investment in the sector must be geared towards building a fit-for-purpose system that brings Ireland in line with international best practice.
“If we look to the countries which are leading the way in quality early years and school age care,” Ms. Bryne said, “Iceland, Sweden and Norway aren’t just investing more than Ireland currently does, they also underpin generous public funding with a robust medium and long-term planning system.
“The best countries operate on two and five-year planning cycles to ensure there are enough children’s places and qualified staff in Early Years settings and childminders’ homes. In Ireland, however, the sector operates from one Budget announcement to the next, putting undue pressure on operators and on families, hampering proper planning.
“The increased investment here in recent years is welcome but Ireland now needs a 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 and their wellbeing at its heart.
“The Government has promised a ‘Children’s Budget’ for 2024. To make good on this commitment, they must put children’s rights at the heart of everything. Our youngest citizens deserve the same right to quality education and care, and the best start in life, as their peers across Europe.”