Little Learners Pre-School and After-School Drumcondra and Ballymun Road Dublin 9
Telephone: (+353 0) 85 144 9610

The childcare sector wants answers

First off we need to apologise as a sector for the trauma and hurt that the RTE expose has caused young families all over Ireland. Parents are left reeling wondering what’s happening to their precious children once they leave them in the morning.

BUT, we ,as providers are reeling too. How dare some settings play fast and loose with the regulations, earn large profits and cause mistrust and suspicion? Its unfair to those of us who recognise that the parent is literally leaving their most precious possession on their doorstep, who go above and beyond to help both the child and their family. We, the decent people, who put care at the centre of all we do, haven’t a penny as we obey every regulation and try to put our staff on decent salaries.

But the sector is in crises and hopefully from the ashes will rise and new fit for purpose childcare and Early Years sector.

At present the sector runs on the heart, vocation and goodwill of providers. Staff are very badly paid, have no sick leave, sign on in the holidays and no pension or maternity benefits. Yet day after day they provide love, care, education and stability to our next generation. Our most precious assets are in the hands of people who are so undervalued that its costs more to park your car for an hour than pay for childcare. And that’s part of the problem, parents are expected to pay from their nett salary for 50 hours a week care. Regardless of the actually tiny cost per hour (average €4) it adds up to a huge percentage of a take home pay packet. We as a sector recognise that and keep our fees to a minimum. But its done at the expense of the staff and cannot continue. Talented and caring staff are leaving as they see no future and then we have a horrible race to the bottom. If things don’t change drastically that RTE program will be playing out over the years again and again

As a society we need to put children and their families at the centre of all policies. We need to working parents for our economy to grow and yet the single most important element in keeping people in the workforce is underfunded and underpaid. WHY do families think its ok that their precious children be left with staff with less rights and entitlements in work than they have? Parents need to stand with providers and insist on better support for the sector as if they don’t they are part of the problem too.

Another major problem is that the government are pouring millions into the sector and then more or less clawing it all back by all the administration and inspection processes. As its much easier to inspect physical things ie heat, hot water, ratios the most valued (by parents and providers) are not top priority. WHY is there no emphasis on love, fun , care, experience, happiness, creativity and joy? Those are the values I hold dear and yet my time is spent checking our first aid box is correctly stocked. I have no problem at all with having physical standards but surely we can find some way of measuring a services commitment to children and their families and staff.

Inspections have no way of differencing between a major problem and a minor one…….18 babies to 1 staff member (should be 1 to 3) non compliant, hot water a degree under recommended tempeture…..non compliant. WHY?

When government subsidiary pays for the free ECCE years the ratio is 1 to 11. An hour later when the parents are paying its 1:8…..WHY?

A child doesn’t come in for their allotted 5 days because of speech therapy appointment over 6 weeks. The provider is docket their subvention. WHY? We have to go to a complicated rigmarole to deregister and register the child. We cant reduce a teachers salary yet our income is reduced.WHY?

RTE expose shows up all sorts of bad practise yet those services were inspected regularly. What was going on? Where did all the previous complaints go. WHY?

A new service was bought from an existing provider. It had all its paperwork done in February and was bought in June. Same child, service, premises and staff and it took a full 12 Months to be registered. No sense of urgency or support at all. WHY?

Two services submit identical paperwork to be registered. One is accepted one spends months rewriting. WHY?

After the expose the governments answer was to get everyone to reregister. This will involve getting up to date planning, new fire certs and new policies. All this will cost a fortune to implement. Who pays? And WHY is the inspection and regularly process failure all being put back on the sector?

Afterschool is now being registered. A ratio of 1 adult to 12 children . A school classroom has 1 adult to 30 children. Why when parents are paying the ratios are lower that when government pays? WHY?

Little Learners came to Drumcondra in 2011 and quickly established a firm footing in the area. Our award winning "Stay and Play" After-School Club delivers a unique and innovative programme for our beloved after-schoolers who benefit form a warm, friendly and fun environment.

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