IMPACT will host a series of meetings for Early Childhood Care and Education professionals next week in Sligo, Westmeath, Dublin and Cork, in order to provide advice about service contracts for staff and providers delivering the state-funded Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme. The meetings all start at 10.30am and take place as follows:
- Monday 18th July at IMPACT office, Ice House, Fish Quay, Sligo
- Tuesday 19th July at the Sheraton Hotel, Athlone
- Wednesday 20th July at at the Teacher’s Club, Parnell Square
- Thursday 21st July at the Metropole Hotel, Cork
The meetings are part of IMPACT’s drive to organise professionals in the early childhood sector. The meetings will address the continuing challenge faced by thousands of professionals each year who are laid off for the summer months because the state-funded Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme restricts funding to 10 months of the year.
IMPACT has sought expert advice on the Department of Children and Youth Affairs contracts, which will be discussed with early years’ staff and providers at the meetings taking place next week.
IMPACT organiser Una Faulkner said the meetings are a crucial opportunity to provide information to early childhood professionals and service providers. “Service providers and staff in this sector are facing a huge challenge every year in their efforts to deliver a quality service. The duration of the contract year means that staff are forced to find other work or claim social welfare during the summer months.
“At the same time, providers see their capacity greatly compromised during the summer period. This is simply unsustainable, and overlooks the fact that parents and children who avail of the ECCE scheme still require childcare during the summer months,” she said.
Una added that the meeting is open to all early childhood care and education professionals as well as service providers in the sector.
New contracts for the provision of the ECCE scheme were finally issued last week after IMPACT warned that the absence of agreement on 2016-2018 early years’ provision was putting free childcare at risk. The contracts cover the provision of two free years of childcare, which parents can access under the scheme.
Earlier this month, IMPACT supported an Association of Childcare Professionals demonstration over the late arrival of the contracts and the summer lay-off of thousands staff.
The two organisations, which work jointly on behalf of early years’ professionals, used the event to highlight the importance of early childhood education and care, as well as the vital role played by early childhood professionals in supporting children and families.
IMPACT deputy general secretary Kevin Callinan said the Government’s inept handling of the scheme means experienced staff are being laid off, while childcare providers’ ability to meet demand for free childcare under ECCE is being compromised.
“Thousands of skilled and experienced early years’ professionals are being forced out of work for the summer because the Government only funds early years’ services for 10 months. That’s no use to parents, who need care for their children 12 months of the year. And it is totally unacceptable to the dedicated staff who will either have no income or depend on social welfare this summer,” he said.
Mr Callinan wrote to Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone TD, to urge her to act quickly on the matter. The contracts issued shortly after the correspondence.