Press Release: Early Childhood Ireland calls on Government to put children at the heart of Early Years and School Age Care in Budget 2024

Press Release: Early Childhood Ireland calls on Government to put children at the heart of Early Years and School Age Care in Budget 2024

Dublin, 13 July 2023: Early Childhood Ireland has today published its Budget 2024 submission calling for children to be at the heart of Early Years and School Age Care in Ireland. A large body of international evidence has established that high-quality Early Years and School Age Care experiences for children provide long-lasting benefits for them, their families, and their communities. Early Childhood Ireland, the leading sector organisation, is calling on the Government to build on public funding commitments by refocusing on a new ambition for our youngest citizens.

“The Irish Early Years and School Age Care system is under significant pressure, despite a committed workforce and unprecedented investment. The Government needs to ensure that Budget 2024 strengthens and enhances current levels of quality so that every child can have access to consistently high-quality education and care in settings and in childminders’ homes,” said Frances Byrne, Director of Policy at Early Childhood Ireland.

In its Budget submission, the organisation outlines five key proposals which build on existing provisions and policies but would also be transformative for the sector.

  • Publish a 5-year plan for implementing additional investment, to reach €4 billion – 1 per cent of GDP – by early 2029, thus achieving a publicly funded Early Years and School Age Care system in Ireland.
  • Building on Aistear and as part of increasing investment, embed the philosophy of the world-renowned Reggio Emilia Approach in the system to ensure that the rights of children are interlinked with educators, families, and communities.
  • Unify the existing funding programmes: National Childcare Scheme (NCS), Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) and Core Funding, to allow settings to use capacity, not children’s attendance, as a funding measurement. This would offer improved flexibility to children, with no financial consequences for providers or parents.
  • Increase the Graduate Premiums to further incentivise the recruitment and retention of graduates.
  • Implement fully the ‘Better data’ recommendations from Partnership for the Public Good, and 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 in childminders’ homes for children in their own communities.

“Collectively, these measures would vindicate children’s rights as part of a world-class Early Years and School Age Care system and support all families regardless of their individual circumstances. An inclusive Early Years and School Age Care system creates a more equitable society for all, especially those living in poverty or experiencing other disadvantages. We urge the government to use Budget 2024 to take vital steps toward delivering high-quality services to all children in Ireland,” Frances Byrne added.

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