Alarming SIPTU Research Underscores Need for Labour’s Childcare Plan

Ivana Bacik TD
22 August 2022
  • Early Years Educators are underpaid
  • Parents are paying too much
  • Children are without a suitable place

Responding to the launch of the SIPTU Big Start Campaign Early Years Staffing and Pay Survey, Labour Leader Ivana Bacik TD has set out Labour’s vision for the sector.

Deputy Bacik said,

“The results of the Big Start Campaign’s Staffing and Pay Survey make for alarming and stark reading. The worrying trend of previous years has continued at a pace, with 68% of providers finding it “extremely difficult” to recruit staff and with nearly 40% of staff likely to leave the sector if pay and conditions are not improved significantly then the entire childcare sector could be facing collapse.

“The reality is the vast majority of early years educators are living pay cheque to pay cheque, experiencing high levels of burnout, earning less than the living wage, and desperately struggling to make ends meet. The spiralling cost-of-living crisis has made an intolerable situation worse for the very people central to our children’s development, education and care. This is unacceptable and needs to change.

“However, there are reasons to be hopeful. The first negotiated pay deal for early years educators is on the horizon. Labour believes this deal must be coupled with an entire new childcare system – a real departure from the piecemeal patch-work quilt which is currently in place.

“Every August, I am inundated with emails from concerned parents scrambling to find a place for their child in a childcare facility. They worry about how to find the money to ensure their kids are cared for while they are at work. I have heard from parents who are forced to pay for hours they are not even using, just so that they can secure a place for their children. It is totally unsustainable. A parent’s ability to secure care for their child should not be dictated by fluctuations in the rate of inflation. It should be considered a basic public service for everyone, and not just for those who can afford to pay.

“We take for granted that children should receive free primary and secondary level schooling. We take for granted that teachers in those schools are entitled to a decent wage, paid by the State. The same should be true for children of preschool age.

“Last year, Labour Women launched a campaign for Equal Early Years in Ireland. It proposes a system based on three pillars: Equality for Children; Affordability for Families; and Fairness for Professionals. I hope that Minister O’Gorman will read our proposals and will take meaningful steps to realise that plan as part of Budget 2023.

“Becoming a new parent is a magical time, but it should not be so expensive. Ireland has the second highest household spend on childcare in the OECD. Couples spend an average of 24% of their income on fees, while that figure is closer to 30% for single parents. High fees, low wages, and a scarcity of places. Parents, early years professionals and (most of all) children deserve so much better. Budget 2023 must move us towards the system of universal public childcare which is so desperately needed.”

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