Reopening Early Years: Priorities, Supports & Solutions

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Early Years services are due to open for the children of essential workers on the 29th June.

SIPTU’s first priority is the safety and welfare of educators, children and parents.

That’s why reopening must be based on advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NEPHT).

This is what we have advocated for at the DCYA Reopening Advisory Group.

But there are other big issues like quality for children, childcare for educators and the financial sustainability of services.

Survey Results & Priorities

Over 6,000 Early Years professionals took the ‘SIPTU Reopening Survey’ last week.

This clearly showed the issues and concerns of Early Years professionals.

For Early Years Educators and Room Leaders, the biggest issue was social distancing (81%), followed by the quality of interactions with children (74%).

For Managers and Owner Manager, financial sustainability was the biggest issue (79%), followed by reduced child/adult ratios (74%).

Based on the survey, and discussions with members, SIPTU’s top priorities for the reopening of Early Years sector are:

  • Supporting quality for children
  • Protection of jobs and wages
  • Support the financial sustainability of services
  • Ensure clear infection control guidelines and practice for everyone

Supporting Jobs and Services

When services reopen it is most likely that children will be looked after in smaller groups.

This would have a major financial impact as income from parental fees and child/adult ratios would be reduced.

Clearly government support is necessary.

That’s why SIPTU is calling for the continuation of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme.

Combined with additional funding / parental fees, we believe it is the best way to support jobs and services.

The vast majority of the sector agree;

  • 75% of managers and owner managers want the Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme to continue, while only 9% want it to end*
  • 70% of educators and room leaders want the Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme to continue, while only 5% want it to end*

*The remainder answered ‘don’t know’

We need decisive action from the DCYA and government so our sector can survive.

Getting It Right

There is a huge amount of work to do before services can reopen on 29th June.

Clear guidance, direction and supports must be put in place by government.

Early Years is also being discussed at Government formation talks today.

SIPTU has been campaigning with many other organisations for a new funding model that delivers high quality, affordability, a pay scale and sustainable funding for services.

With over 6,000 members, SIPTU is now a strong position to advocate for the Early Years profession, during the Covid-19 crisis and for the future.

If you haven’t already done so, you can join SIPTU here.

If you have any queries about reopening, please contact your local organiser or email bigstart@siptu.ie.

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