Tuesday 24 October 2017

Creches fees 'to spiral' if Government won't fund training

Frances Fitzgerald
Frances Fitzgerald

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

CHILDCARE staff are warning that parents will end up paying more for pre-school care unless the Government funds much-needed training and education.

The warning has come from the newly formed national body, the Association of Childhood Professionals, representing an estimated 22,500 staff in creches and other preschool facilities.

However, while Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald said she was committed to improving the quality of services, she failed to make any specific pledge on training funding.

"I don't accept it will push up costs," she said.

Chairperson Marian Quinn said it was essential that all staff were trained to a certain standard and that they got access to degree courses and continuing professional development.

However, a degree course, which a poorly paid childcare worker would now have to fund and study for in their spare time, could be around €14,000, she warned.

She insisted it was essential that the Government carry out an examination of where money was currently being spent in order to free up any funds which could be used more productively in areas like education.

"We are calling for an initial statutory minimum requirement for all childhood professionals of a FETAC level 5 Childcare qualification together with a national register," Ms Quinn said.

EXPOSE

She said the setting up of the organisation on a national basis was planned in advance of the recent RTE 'Prime Time' expose.

A system of mentoring of staff was also promised but it has not been rolled out to the extent that it should be because of cuts in funding, she said.

The rates of staff turnover in childcare settings are unsustainable and the short-term contract working needs to end, she added.

"Research shows that those who are best qualified are leaving the sector for areas with career paths. This creates an ongoing skills gap and de-professionalises the sector."

Irish Independent

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