Call out to state to spend more on early years
“CHILDREN and families in South Dublin deserve the very best early years care and education.”
That’s according to Early Childhood Ireland, the organisation in the early years sector, which this month called on the government to make 2023 the year when every young child is guaranteed a place in a high-quality early years or school-age care setting, whether centre-based or in a childminder’s home.
The organisation said that 2022 has been a landmark year for early years care and education in Ireland, with €1 billion in funding announced in the 2023 budget, and roll-out of the new Core Funding model.
However, Teresa Heeney, CEO of Early Childhood Ireland, said additional funding and specific actions are needed from government to build on this progress.
Heeney said: “Quality care and education does not happen overnight, and even with the funding committed, our members need to see an action plan which outlines year-on-year spending priorities.
“We are renewing our call for the government to publish a comprehensive five-year spending plan, which includes specific actions that address the issues children and families in South Dublin are currently facing.”
Early Childhood Ireland is calling for implementation of the next phase of ‘Core Funding’ to ensure that every child, regardless of ability, geography or family income, has access to the high-quality care and education they need.
Extension of government supports to include childminding, and recognition of the vital contribution of childminders.
A new ‘Employment Regulation Order’ to improve terms and conditions for the 30,000-strong workforce.
Valerie Gaynor, manager of Creative Kids & Co, an early years’ education setting based in Walkinstown, said she welcomes the increased investment, but changing working patterns for parents mean providers are facing an increased administrative burden.
“Due to more flexible working arrangements and the option to work from home, parents are often changing their hours with us.
“When this happens, we have to submit an entirely new application under the National Childcare Scheme which funds their child’s place.
“The IT system that we use to do this is very bulky and not user-friendly. We’ve found there is often a duplication of work.
“This is resulting in staff spending a large amount of time completing paperwork and applications when the focus should be on delivering quality care and education to our children.
“Some settings are also finding it hard to recruit and retain quality staff.
“The increased admin pressure is not helping this situation.”
Early Childhood Ireland works in partnership with 1,030 members in Dublin to achieve quality experiences for every child in early years and school-age care settings