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“Sector is a pressure cooker of high expectations and low investment”

June 18, 2014

Statement from Teresa Heeney, CEO of Early Childhood Ireland who is presenting a plan for the development of the early childhood education sector under the invitation of Senator Jillian van Turnhout to members of the Oireachtas today Wednesday 18th June.

“The early childhood education sector is a pressure cooker of high expectations and low investment and sustainability is a real issue for the majority of our 3,400 members employing 16,500 staff who support over 101,000 children and their families through preschool, afterschool, parent and toddler groups and full daycare provision nationwide.

“It is time to move the rhetoric into reality when talking childcare in Ireland and the areas that need immediate attention from government and policy makers are investment, reduction in group (class) size, enhanced frequent and consistent inspections, increased capitation and quality improvement.

“Alarmingly, despite all the talk about investing in quality in the sector, our members must again this summer sign a flawed, and for many, uneconomical contract, to deliver the free preschool scheme.  This is a contract that allows for absolutely zero CPD (continuous professional development) days to work on essential tasks such as training, administration and parent meetings.  It has absolutely no increase in capitation and no reduction in group size which has a direct impact on quality as every parent knows. This is the reality today and we will lose quality early educators from the sector as a direct result.  Our children deserve better and I am urging all members of the Oireachtas to take this sector seriously and to stop relying on the goodwill of early childhood educators which is fast running out.

“Post the RTE Primetime Investigates programme ‘Breach of Trust’ there were deafening calls, from every political party, for essential changes and investment to improve the quality and standards in the early childhood care and education sector in Ireland.  Yet when we look at the additional investment made across the sector since Primetime was aired it is just a drop in the ocean of the money we need to support this sector.

“We may hear the cry of ‘no money’ when it comes to the required investment but the bottom line is that we are asking the Government in 2015 to invest €3,760 for each child in a registered setting by restoring the full amount removed from the sector when the ‘Early Childhood Supplement’ was withdrawn in 2009.”

Ends.

Further information: Teresa Heeney 087 7671481 or Carmel Doyle 087 2473537 

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