Monday 27 January 2020

Hundreds of creches face threat of chaos after alliance announces Dublin rally

The care and education given to children in crèches and preschools, helps them to flourish.
The care and education given to children in crèches and preschools, helps them to flourish.

Anne-Marie Walsh and Ralph Riegel

HUNDREDS of creches face the threat of chaos early next month after an alliance of childcare providers, staff and parents announced a Dublin rally.

The Early Year Alliance is holding a protest march to demand a “sustainable solution to the worsening childcare crisis” on Wednesday February 5.

Chairperson of the Federation of Early Childhood Providers, Elaine Dunne, said hundreds of providers are likely to take to the streets on the day.

“They will come from all over the country,” she said. “I would expect hundreds of providers. And there is a general consensus that all their services will close and there will be no skeleton staffing.”

In a statement, the alliance said it will be highlighting its election 2020 demands for the sector.

It said these include the development of a funding model to support affordable and accessible childcare for parents, high quality care and sustainability for providers.

The alliance wants a ‘living wage’ of €12.30 an hour to be introduced for workers this year as the first step towards a professional pay scale.

Ms Dunne called on all those concerned by the worsening childcare crisis to join the rally “to say enough is enough”.

“We are educators and need to be paid accordingly,” she said.

“The reason the insurance hike in the sector has hit us so hard is because we are paid so little in the first place.”

She said a grant for the ECCE pre-school scheme pays €4.60 an hour.

“We only get paid for three hours a day,” she said. “Sustainability is a real issue for providers”.

Association of Childhood Professionals Chairperson, Marian Quinn, said high quality services don't come cheap.

“We can't continue to subsidise the true cost of provision through low wages, unsustainable services, and high fees for parents,” she said.

She said the state must “accept responsibility” and significantly fund the vital public service.

“We cannot be in a position where impoverished staff are providing the foundation level in our education system,” she said.

“It is inequitable, unjust and immoral. Staff turnover is enormous because our profession is being exploited to meet political objectives. This has to stop.”

Siptu Head of Strategic Organising, Darragh O’Connor, said thousands of crèche staff are expected to attend the rally.

He said the current government funding model is making it impossible to deliver high quality and child focused education and care.

“Despite qualifications and hard work, early years educators earn just €11.45 an hour on average, well below the living wage,” he said.

“The majority are struggling to make ends meet and will be unable to stay in their profession if things don’t change.”

The Early Years Alliance includes the Association of Childhood Professionals, the Federation of Early Childhood Providers, Siptu, the National Community Childcare Forum, Seas Suas and the National Childhood Network.

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