Congress notes today’s publication by the Minister of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration, and Youth, Roderick O’Gorman, T.D of two important and long-awaited reports for the Early Learning and Care and School-Age Childcare sector.
• Partnership for the Public Good: A New Funding Model for Early Learning and Care and School-Age Childcare;
• Nurturing Skills: The Workforce Plan for Early Learning and Care and School-Age Childcare, 2022-2028.
Congress participated in consultations around the development of both of these reports. We note that the reports include suggestions made by ICTU. Chief among these is the fact we see services publicly funded and publicly managed.
This is 'an important step towards the Congress preference of a public universal scheme for early years education & care'.We are encouraged by the new additional funding stream for the sector.
This should support quality of provision, improved pay and conditions for staff, management of parental fees, and sustainability of services so the State can ensure that public investment is spent to deliver the transformational change needed in the sector.
The workforce in the childcare sector is widely recognised as the major factor in determining children’s experiences and their outcomes, but the sector has been characterised by low pay and high turnover.
Congress is pleased therefore to see that central to the new arrangements is the establishment of an Employment Regulation Order to improve pay and conditions in the sector.
The completion of the Joint Labour Committee for Early Years Services process will support service providers to meet the higher costs arising from pay increases and from staff participation in training and professional development activities, without raising fees for parents.
We look forward to further engagement on the details with the Department through future meetings of the Early Learning and Childcare Stakeholder Forum and the Labour Employer Economic Forum Early Years Subgroup.