Early Childhood Ireland (ECI) is calling for children to be at the heart of Early Years and School Age Care in Ireland. ECI says that a large body of international evidence has established that high-quality care experiences for children provide long-lasting benefits for them, their families, and their communities in their 2024 budget submission document.
In its Budget submission, the organisation outlines five key proposals which build on existing provisions and policies but would also be transformative for the childcare sector.
• Publish a 5-year plan for implementing additional investment, to reach €4bn – 1% of GDP – by early 2029, thus achieving a publicly funded Early Years and School Age Care system in Ireland.
• Building on Aistear and as part of increasing investment, embed the philosophy of the world-renowned Reggio Emilia Approach in the system to ensure that the rights of children are interlinked with educators, families, and communities.
• Unify the existing funding programmes: National Childcare Scheme (NCS), Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) and Core Funding, to allow settings to use capacity, not children’s attendance, as a funding measurement. This would offer improved flexibility to children, with no financial consequences for providers or parents.
• Increase the Graduate Premiums to further incentivise the recruitment and retention of graduates.
• Implement fully the ‘Better data’
recommendations from Partnership for the Public Good, and initiate a system of national and local 2-year and 5-year planning cycles to ensure there are enough Early Years and School Age Care places in settings and in childminders’ homes for children in their own communities.