Children’s Rights Alliance on Early Childhood Education

15th September 2022

Posted In: FYI

The Children’s Rights Alliance host their fourth event of End Child Poverty Week focusing on the importance of investing in early childhood education and care to break the cycle of poverty as early as possible in a child’s life. The event is held in the context of an historic pay deal for the early years sector which goes live today, Thursday 15thSeptember, 2022.

Speaking at the event, Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance stated: “The transformative power of early childhood care and education cannot be overlooked, particular in any conversation about how to help support children and families through this cost of living crisis and into the future. It is a key to breaking the cycle of poverty that traps children and limits their opportunities to reach their full potential.

Decision makers need to see early years as an equaliser – as a way to ensure that every child has an equal start in life.”

“The first few years of a child’s life play a critical role in determining their future. The research shows that for children living in serious deprivation or disadvantage, there options and opportunities are severely limited. If we can see the trajectory of where a child’s life will go from as young as three years old, then it is imperative that we look at these early years and how we can ensure children get the access to services, systems and supports they need for the best possible future.

Investment in early years is the single most valuable way to break this cycle of poverty for children.

Budget 2023 is a prime opportunity to bring in fresh thinking and increased investment that will make a significant difference in the lives of children and families, particularly those who are currently struggling just to keep their heads above water.”

In Budget 2023, the Children’s Rights Alliance have called for:

•Increase the National Childcare Scheme by 10% to ensure all families benefit from sustained investment in early child education and care.

•Increase investment in early childhood education and care from its current apportionment of less than 0.5 per cent of GDP, to the OECD average of 0.7 per cent, with a longer objective of moving toward 1.8 per cent of GDP.

•Exclude Child Benefit and Child Maintenance from reckonable income for the purposes of the National Childcare Scheme.

•Provide free access, or nearly free, access to childcare for families on the lowest incomes by providing higher levels of subsidy under the National Childcare Scheme for all families in receipt of the Medical Card.

•Invest in community workers to enable Traveller families to access early childhood education and care by providing practical information, funded by the European Social Fund.

“In Ireland, we have some of the highest childcare fees of all of Europe. We also fall far behind our counterparts in public investment. Now is the time to change that.

The Government’ s early years strategy, First 5, sets out policy and priorities in this area. Today, they have just launched an historic pay deal for the early years sector that will ensure better pay for educators and increased quality of care for children – they need to turn towards recognising the long-term vision and the Citizen’s Assembly recommendation of a Public Funding Model. This would make great strides in addressing affordability and accessibility barriers for families and unlock opportunities for all children in the first years of their life,” concluded Tanya Ward.