This week’s Policy Brief gives an overview of Early Childhood Ireland’s recent submission to the Anti-Racism Committee’s Public Consultation on a new National Action Plan against Racism for Ireland.
In July 2021, Early Childhood Ireland made a submission to the Anti-Racism Committee’s Public Consultation on a new National Action Plan against Racism for Ireland. Since the previous National Action Plan ended in 2008, the UN, The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and several civil society organisations have called for the publication of a new one. This is now being developed by the Anti-Racism Committee, which consulted with stakeholder organisations and members of the public to gather society’s views on the subject.
We believe that the Early Learning and Care (ELC) and School-Age Childcare (SAC) sector is key in promoting racial equity in Irish society. In the submission, Early Childhood Ireland put forward three core arguments. First, the ELC/SAC sector is a substantial employer of female migrants, and therefore professionalising the sector is key to improving their working lives. Second, the development of ELC/SAC services facilitates the labour market integration of migrant/minority parents. Third, and most importantly, an accessible and high quality ELC/SAC sector is central to the cognitive, mental, physical and social development of all children – and especially of children from migrant/minority backgrounds.
We also made several policy recommendations, including:
- Increasing public investment, which is a pre-condition for an expansion of centre-based services and for a progressive formalisation of home-based services, improving affordability and accessibility.
- Development of awareness campaigns on childcare rights and programmes, targeted at migrants/minority networks, in multiple languages.
- Introduction of institutional arrangements that channel the increased investment to wages and work conditions.
- Addressing aspects of professionalization other than pay and conditions. This includes the creation of a professional body, and promoting appropriate initial professional education and continuous professional development (CPD).
- Creation of publicly accessible databases that track information on the racial, ethnic and socio-economic background of workers and characteristics of employment.
- Monitoring of access to ELC/SAC services by children and families in the social groups in Ireland most at risk of experiencing racism and discrimination.
- Once work conditions in the sector are significantly improved, giving settings access to mechanisms to retain foreign workers, such as visa sponsorships. This would allow for a reduction in turnover rates. Promoting stable and nurturing relationships is very important from the point of view of children’s development.
- Publication of a time-lined implementation plan and a clear budget amount and budget line.
Early Childhood Ireland welcomes the opportunity to feed into the National Action Plan Against Racism for Ireland. The full submission can be found here.