Childcare educators and parents in Mayo in Mayo will join thousands of others in a nationwide protest next month. The action is being taken to protest against underinvestment in childcare by successive governments.
The Early Years Alliance announced that it will be holding a national protest march outside Dáil Éireann on February 5, with thousands of educators, childcare providers and parents from all over Ireland expected to attend. The national protest will see early years services across the county close for the day.
Elaine Malone, manager of Aughagower Community Childcare, said that they have no option but to stage the protest.
“It’s sad that we have to take a full day of closure in order to get heard, but we have been left with no choice. Services are at breaking point. Years of underfunding by successive governments, rising insurance costs, introduction of commercial rates and low levels of ECCE Capitation for only 38 weeks of the year are making services unfeasible. This results in low wages for staff and high costs for parents,” Ms Malone told The Mayo News.
“The childcare model in Ireland needs a complete overhaul. It’s not working for parents, educators or employers. It’s not surprising as Ireland invests only 0.2 percent of the recommended 1 percent GDP … Ireland is the lowest in all of Europe.”
The Early Years Alliance was formed in December 2019. It includes the Association of Childhood Professionals, the Federation of Childhood Providers, SIPTU, the National Community Childcare Forum, Seas Suas and the National Childhood Network.
Ms Malone explained that the recent ‘extortionate’ rise in cost in insurance resulted in one premises closing its doors in December, and she said that she feels the situation will only get worse.
She added that constant demands from inspection bodies have resulted in ‘emotional and financial stress’ and that people were leaving the sector due to low wages.
“We get capitation per child, which in 2010 was €64.50 per child, and in 2020 it is €69 per child. There has been such little change over the last ten years, but insurance costs and overheads are getting higher and higher. People are leaving the sector, and while we love what we do, unfortunately love does not pay the bills at the end of the day. I and others like me do not want to leave, but it is getting to the stage where we are looking at other options,” she said.