Support Early Years Professionals ‘Walk Off’ today – Funchion
Sinn Féin’s Spokesperson for Education Kathleen Funchion is calling on parents to support childhood professionals across the state who are staging a “walk-off” this afternoon from many childcare services to express their frustration with a lack of government investment in their sector.
Deputy Funchion said that the sector also want to highlight the fact that trained professionals often earn only the minimum or below the living wage for the important work they do in caring and educating our children and that they are calling for a significant change in thinking and resourcing by Government.
The Carlow-Kilkenny TD said:
“As the Association of Childhood Professionals points out, many parents will undoubtedly feel frustrated with many centres for closing early today, as part of the national action. However, we must realise this is not about isolating parents or about centres seeking greater payment from them. It’s about raising awareness about the crisis point at which service providers and staff find themselves.
“Childhood professionals are seeking parents’ understanding and support to advocate for greater investment in this sector and most importantly, to be made a priority issue on the political agenda.
“The reality is that the cost of providing services here is no different from other countries — yet we always hear stories of how affordable childcare is in the Scandinavian countries and other European neighbours. The reason for this is simple- lack of state investment into the sector. Early childcare and education are considered public service by most of our European neighbours and as vital parts of social infrastructure and an investment into future generations.
“Here, our State invests one 10th of what these countries do in this sector; just 10% of what is internationally recommended. This is the crux of the problem and why parents pay the amount of a second mortgage for childcare in Ireland. Lack of state investment is also why the sector is struggling to retain staff, and why centres are closing at a fast rate resulting in a shortage of services for parents of children between the age of six months of age to three years of age.
“It is the view of childhood professionals that existing services are being subsidised by the poor pay and conditions of staff and by unsustainable services It is a labour-intensive profession, so even when staff are earning little more than minimum wage, this cost accounts for approximately 70% of the provider’s expenditure.
“The consequence of poor pay and working conditions with long hours and often unpaid hours is that young people and graduates are leaving the profession at an alarming rate due to there being no secure future in it for them. These are young professionals who have a passion to work with children yet are being forced to leave as there are no prospects for them. I invite parents to join with the profession today to support their call for a change in thinking and increased government investment.”