SIPTU’s “Big Start” campaign is arguing for high quality early years services delivered by qualified professionals. Early years workers and providers are dedicated to delivering a quality service that focuses on the needs of Irish children. However they are facing some big problems. Parents are paying too much for childcare, workers are paid too little and are struggling to make ends meet, and providers are struggling to break even.
The cause of these problems is mostly due to a lack of State investment. Ireland spends only 25% of the European average investment in early years services. Children deserve quality, parents deserve affordability and workers deserve a professional wage. This is why SIPTU have launched the “Big Start” Campaign. By bringing workers, parents and providers together, SIPTU want to create a strong voice that the Government cannot ignore.
This information was set out in their “Big Start” Affordable Childcare submission that was published last November. The document endorsed by organisations including SIPTU, Barnardos and the National Childhood Network, details the campaign’s views on the principles and high-level goals that the proposed Single Affordable Childcare Programme (SACP) or future integrated SACP/ECCE programme should meet.
“Big Start” Campaign Co-ordinator, Darragh O’ Connor, says “The new ‘Single Affordable Childcare Programme’ announced by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, will not significantly address quality. Early years professionals are struggling on an average of €10.27 per hour, with many earning the minimum wage. Early years services are also struggling to recruit and retain qualified staff because pay is so low. The result is that many dedicated, skilled and qualified early years professionals don’t see a future in the early years sector. If we want the best for our children when they enter early years care and education, we need to address pay and access to training for professionals.”
WIT Students’ Union (WITSU) Officers have voiced their support for the campaign. WITSU Education Officer, Marie Sheedy, strongly supports the campaign’s objective. “Parents are struggling to make ends meet whilst paying for high childcare costs and workers in the early years sector are providing high quality care for pitiful wages” she says, “We need to address this issue and ensure that all graduates in the early years sector receive fair pay for quality work.”
More information on SIPTU’s “Big Start” campaign can be found on their website: http://www.bigstart.ie/