April 20, 2023
New survey shows staffing crisis remains in early years sector – Kathleen Funchion TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Children, Kathleen Funchion TD, has today welcomed the publication of SIPTU Big Start’s Annual Early Years Staffing Survey which points to a very serious recruitment and retention crisis within the sector.  

She said it is clear that much more needs to be done to reform the childcare sector to ensure that it is sustainable. 

Teachta Funchion said:  

“It has been clear for some time now that the childcare system isn’t working. It isn’t working for families forced to pay sky-high fees, for staff who are unfairly paid and for the sector that struggles to retain staff. The government had promised to address this, but it is clear that the changes needed have not been delivered. I remain concerned that staffing levels, the ability to attract qualified staff and retaining those staff are still a major worry for providers, with 93 per cent saying it was impacting the quality of their service.

“Over 2,000 people responded to the survey and cited burnout, lack of benefits, stress and pay as the key reasons for wanting to leave the sector. Some highlighted they do a significant amount of work that goes unpaid.

“At the time I cautiously welcomed core funding and the ELC process that resulted in an historic ERO for the sector. However I did raise concerns that further funding was needed to address the crisis that was current around staffing levels, unfortunately little seems to have changed. The government has failed to deliver the changes needed to reform the childcare sector.

“It is so frustrating that a staffing crisis, which is not the fault of the sector, is allowed to impact on the quality of early education and care a young child receives. There is a wealth of evidence to show the importance of early education and care in a child’s mental and physical development.

“The survey findings clearly show that further work needs to be done by the Minister to ensure pay and conditions are improved. However what we are seeing is stubbornly high turnover rates at all levels of qualification within the wider workforce.  

“The Government’s most recent solution, which was decades overdue, was to increase spending in the sector moderately and freeze fees for parents by an insufficient amount. What their actions did was mitigate the collapse of the sector, however they should have gone further.

“Despite the increase in state investment, it is clear from these findings that there is still a long way to go in addressing the staffing crisis. Sinn Féin have outlined our proposals to deliver a childcare system that is fair. We would cut fees by two thirds for families, we would deliver fair pay for childcare workers and put the sector on a sustainable footing. This would be an important investment that would ensure staff can remain in the sector and businesses can keep their doors open. The government must listen to Sinn Féin’s proposals and act to deliver these reforms, before more staff leave the sector.”

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