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Press Release

Minister Zappone launches consultation to start national conversation on Early Learning and Care and School-age Childcare

Published: 28 February 2020
From: Department of Children and Youth Affairs

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, today announced a programme of nationwide consultation events with early learning and care and school-age childcare practitioners on a Workforce Development Plan and a new Funding Model. The consultation seeks to start a national conversation on the future of the workforce and the future of funding within the sector.

Delivering on a commitment in First 5: A Whole-of-Government Strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families 2019-2018, the consultation will be run through the 30 City and County Childcare Committees (CCCs) across the country.

Consultation events will run between 19 March and 2 April 2020 across every CCC area. To facilitate as many providers and staff as possible, the events will take place in the evenings and in larger areas multiple events will be offered.

Announcing the consultation programme, Minister Zappone said:

“First 5 is a whole-of-Government, whole of-society strategy to improve the lives of babies, young children and their families in Ireland. It was developed through extensive engagement between Government Departments and State Agencies, and is informed by wider consultations. It is essential that this collaboration continues. I am pleased that work is well underway on progressing reform initiatives under First 5 such as the Workforce Development Plan and the development of a new Funding Model. Ambitious plans for consultation and engagement are planned to ensure that these policy reforms are informed by children, parents, providers, practitioners, and other stakeholders to ensure that children have the necessary supports in life to develop to their full potential.
“I am confident that these national consultation events will allow for childcare providers and practitioners to have their say on the important issues of future funding and future workforce and I would like to encourage all those with an interest to engage with these consultation opportunities.”

To ensure everyone can have their say on these important issues, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs will also open an online survey and call for submissions. This will be launched after the conclusion of the consultation events.

The Department of Children and Youth Affairs began the process to develop a Workforce Development Plan with the Department of Education and Skills in 2019. It also established an international expert group in 2019 to develop a new Funding Model for the early learning and care and school-age childcare sector. Both Steering Groups are now seeking to hear the views of those working in the sector.

Specific issues for discussion at the local events will include:

  • attracting and retaining a diverse workforce
  • ensuring availability and accessibility of provision
  • making services more affordable and sustainable
  • moving towards a graduate–led workforce in centre based care
  • raising the quality of services
  • supporting career pathways
  • titles to describe roles in the sector
  • training and development

The consultation events aim to explore solutions to improve the quality of services for children, to improve pay and conditions for staff, to ensure services are accessible by all children who need them, and to reduce costs for parents, in a sustainable sector. The events will include discussion of how to support professional development and make careers in the sector more attractive.

Further information on the events is available from your local City/County Childcare Committee; registration is now open and can be accessed here.

Update (12.10.2020) here on foot of COVID-19.


Note to the Editor:

The Department of Children and Youth Affairs regularly consults with members of the early learning and care and school-age childcare workforce through a variety of mechanisms, including through:

  • a network of 30 City and County Childcare Committees myccc.ie and seven national voluntary childcare organisations it funds
  • a National Early Years Forum chaired by the Minister or senior officials which meets regularly with representatives of the sector
  • specialist fora established to engage with the sector on specialist issues, for example, the Childminding Expert Group, the School-Age Standards Working Group, Open Policy Debate on First 5
  • regular meetings with services, their representatives and advocacy organisations
  • various parliamentary processes