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Deputy Katherine Zappone

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Snippet Contents:

I propose to answer Questions Nos. 37 and 511 together.
I am fully aware of the matters regarding pay for early years workers and have been an advocate for improved conditions for many years. That is why I increased the capitation rate for the first time since the ECCE programme was introduced in 2010. I have provided for a 7% increase from September next.
The independent review of costs I have commissioned will provide critical information to guide decision-making on further investment in future budgets. I am pleased to report that my officials met personnel from Crowe Horwath again last week to advance this important work.
The new early years care and education measures announced in budget 2018 form part of continued growth in early years education investment by my Department. In budget 2017 I secured a 35% increase in child care funding, which followed from a similar increase in budget 2016. These increases reflect the emphasis we are placing on developing a quality service with appropriately supported staff. Having said this, I will repeat that it will take significant investment over many budgets to enable Ireland to catch up with its OECD counterparts and enable us to value our early years workforce fully.
As the Deputy will be aware, my Department is not the employer of child care workers. I have suggested to the sector that they could apply to the Labour Court for a sectoral employment order, asking the court to make a recommendation on pay for the whole early years sector.
I should also remind Deputies that in addition to the 7% increase achieved in capitation payments, I have also provided €3.5 million towards "non-contact time" for all child care providers who register for the enhanced child care measures introduced last month. This, in addition to the €14.5 million paid to child care services so far in 2017, recognises the administration associated with the ECCE programme and other schemes.
I am pleased to confirm that a full €18 million will be paid in programme support payments in 2018.
I am committed to doing everything I can to help to address the pay and sustainability issues in the early years sector.