The Green Party is supporting calls for the Minister for Children Katherine Zappone TD to enter into a renewed dialogue with the Association of Childcare Professionals and Early Childhood Ireland.
This follows a rally held in Dublin to highlight the plight of a sector where, traditionally, wages are low and options for professional career paths limited
Speaking following the rally, Green Party Spokesperson for Community and Local Government, Cllr Malcolm Noonan said that Government has an opportunity to renew its vision for the sector by viewing it as an important stepping stone in early childhood development and education, therefore vastly improving the emotional well being and educational outcomes of future generations.
Cllr Noonan, who is Chairperson of a Community Childcare Service in Kilkenny, said that he and his board wanted to be able to develop the service by offering further staff training and investing in the facility but like so many providers around the country, the State is not investing enough to make a difference.
He said that for too long we have been treated like a child-minding service, where heavy capital investment during the boom to meet the needs of full employment was met with a cliff fall in funding when the crash came.
"Yet from UNICEF to the World Health Organisation, report after report stresses the importance of investment in early childhood development. Ireland’s investment in early childhood education and development is among the lowest in the EU. This must be reversed,” he added.
“Wages need to be lifted significantly and this requires increased subvention to the sector. The second free ECCE year was welcome for parents but has put increased pressure on services.
“We want the Minister and Government to take today’s protest as an indicator of the anger and low morale among childcare practitioners. More importantly we want Government to respond by a transformative vision for early childhood education and for future generations of young people in Ireland," he concluded.