Press Release – Early Childhood Ireland Barometer 2024

Press Release – Early Childhood Ireland Barometer 2024

Overwhelming public support for children to have guaranteed access to high-quality, inclusive Early Years in their community

– Early Childhood Ireland Barometer 2024

 

Monday, February 26, 2024:

Over three quarters (76%) of the Irish public agree that every child in the country should be guaranteed access to high-quality, inclusive Early Years and School Age Care in their own community, according to the Early Childhood Ireland Barometer 2024 released today.

The seventh annual Early Childhood Ireland Barometer – based on a national opinion poll conducted by RED C – has 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.

 

Main findings:

  • 76% 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%) believe that education for children under 5 is as important as for those over 5.
  • Almost three-quarters (74%) think that Early Years education should be freely available to all children.
  • More than half (54%) agree that Early Years and School Age Care staff with university degrees should have the same terms and conditions as primary school teachers.
  • 53% think Government should pay the wages of crèche staff.
  • Almost two-thirds (62%) say parents should be financially supported to stay at home for their child’s first year.
  • Over half (54%) think that employers should be legally obliged to top-up new parents’ maternity and paternity benefits.

 

Access and Inclusion

“What we’re seeing is 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%) 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,” said Frances Byrne, Director of Policy at Early Childhood Ireland.

“Three-quarters of the population also favour the free provision of Early Years education for all children. One way to achieve this would be to move to a fully publicly funded model of Early Years and School Age Care and bring us in line with the best-in-class systems available in other countries,” Ms. Byrne continued.

 

Sector Staffing

“The data also shows the value placed by the public on those who work 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. Again, critical action is needed to make significant and sustainable progress on the terms and conditions of the 30,000-strong Early Years and School Age Care workforce,” Ms. Byrne said.

 

Sustainable Solutions

“This year’s Barometer once again shows that the public strongly supports access to high-quality, inclusive Early Years and School Age Care for children in their community. Currently, there is 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,” Ms. Byrne concluded.

 

Please click here to read the full Barometer 2024>>>

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