Early education centres run ‘no empty promises’ election campaign

Twelve early education centres across Dublin ran a unique campaign during the general election urging politicians to ‘listen – but make no empty promises’. Management and staff at the centres, who are IMPACT members, decided to run the campaign following a series of budget cuts which has put the centres under increased pressure over the last 18 months.

The campaign involved each of the centres inviting candidates in their constituencies to visit and find out more about the work they do. Parents and staff also issued canvassers who called to their door with a leaflet with a simple message: “We are not interested in votes for auction. We are not looking for promises that cannot be kept. We simply want you to understand what we do, and why it matters.”

Dublin North West election candidates met parents, children and staff of the HSE-funded Tír Na nÓg early education centre in Ballymun to hear their concerns about future cuts and closures. Staff and parents at Tír Na nÓg and the 11 other Dublin early education centres, which have already seen budget cuts of up to 8%, fear that further reductions could mean an end to affordable child care, pre-school education, parent support, and nutritious meals services in the capital’s most vulnerable communities.

The early education centres give support to parents and provide nutritious meals to their children as well as providing affordable childcare and education programmes, including the full pre-school curriculum, to the highest national standards. They depend on the HSE for 90% of their funding.

Although they serve the entire community, they prioritise the provision of pre-school places for vulnerable children referred by public health nurses linked to Temple Street Children’s Hospital, Mater Child Guidance, and Saint James Hospital. They also liaise with social workers and speech and language therapists and provide referrals to appropriate therapy services, early intervention teams and paediatricians.

Managers at the centres wrote to all election candidates setting out the vital role that they play in their communities. They said: “A modest percentage cut to our budget is felt all the way through the community. We have only overcome the most recent cuts by changing how we do things and asking staff to make sacrifices. We are not presenting you with a shopping list or seeking electoral promises that cannot be fulfilled. We just want you to know that we are here. We want you to remember that if you are elected. And we really need you to remember that when the country is asked to brace itself once more for tough decisions for which there are ‘no alternatives’.”

Download a copy of the campaign leaflet HERE.