The Children’s Rights Alliance welcomed the publication of the Independent Review of the Cost of Providing Quality Early Learning and Childcare in Ireland. The Independent Review set out to analyse the current costs of providing early learning and childcare and the factors that impact on these costs.
Speaking in response to the publication, Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance said, “This review comes at a critical time. We know that Ireland has one of the highest childcare costs in all of Europe. This report gives us a good understanding on the costs of childcare and what factors impact these and will help shape any future policies in the area. It provides an evidence base for the development of a funding model that ensures a quality, professional, affordable and public Early Childhood Care and Education system that is accessible to all children and is free for the most vulnerable.”
Despite significant investment in early childhood care and education and school age childcare through schemes like the National Childcare Scheme and the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Scheme, Ireland spends the second lowest amount on ECCE for three to five-year-olds.
“The legacy of years of under investment has resulted in low pay for early years professionals,” said Tanya Ward. “This does very little to encourage staff to stay and in recent years we have seen very high staff turnover rates of 23 per cent overall. This jumps to an average of 40 per cent staff turnover for full day care services. Just over half of early years professional are actively looking for another job. Research has shown that there is a clear link between career qualifications and the quality of care and education. It is vital that we invest in a professional workforce because the system we have is simply not sustainable.”
“We are at a watershed moment in terms of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) and we have a real opportunity to build a world class system of provision,” Tanya Ward concluded. “We now have a good evidence-base to inform where funding should go and the basis to develop a public model of early years that is affordable for parents and recognises and values the dedicated workforce who will in turn, provide a quality and loving environment for our children.”