Sinn Féin spokesperson on Children Kathleen Funchion TD has warned that if pay and conditions for childcare and early years educators is not prioritised in this year’s budget, the sector will haemorrhage qualified staff.
Speaking after SIPTU’s Big Start Oireachtas budget briefing today, Teachta Funchion said:
“I am calling on the Minister to take the dire warnings on staffing levels, retention and recruitment seriously and to match it with serious investment.
“Ireland continues to lag behind its closest neighbours in Europe when it comes to investment in childcare, a recent UNICEF childcare investment ranking put Ireland at 36 out of 41 countries.
“It begs the question, why do we keep keeping it so wrong when it is obvious to everyone how to alleviate stress on the sector?
“To see prices drop, workers retained, and for services to remain open, we must substantially ramp up investment.
“Today also saw the launch of the findings from the most recent Early Years Staffing Survey Report, from the New Deal for Early Years Coalition.
“It found that 61% of managers think their service may have to reduce capacity due to staff shortages, however, shockingly one third of all services believe they may have to close due to staff shortages.
“In last year’s budget, I called for an investment of approximately €500 million for the sector, to deliver accessible, affordable childcare for parents and secure and properly paid careers for early years professionals.
“I also called for a sustainability and capacity fund for providers, these measures would reduce creche fees for parents by two thirds starting with a reduction of one third in the first year.
“Government ministers and TDs continue to pay lip service to parents, service providers and those working in the sector. Yet when it comes to voting for investment in the sector, they toe the party line.
“Today’s calls by the sector are dire, and they must be taken on board by the Minister.”