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Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone)

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Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone)

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Snippet Contents:

I wish to acknowledge the critical role played by staff working in the childcare sector in delivering high quality childcare services. They deserve to be recognised, valued and respected for this.  My Department does, however, acknowledge that pay and conditions are major issues facing the sector. My Department is engaging with the early years sector to explore how this can be addressed.
In relation to pay and conditions for the Early Years sector, it must be noted that my Department is not the employer of childcare workers. However, in terms of improving pay and conditions I have engaged directly with the sector, and have suggested  that one approach the sector could consider is applying for a Sectoral Employment Order (SEO) through the Labour Court, seeking a recommendation in relation to pay for the whole early years' sector.
Under a SEO process, organisations substantially representative of employers and employees come together to agree a way forward and submissions are sought from key stakeholders. My Department would not be a party to the SEO process, however, as a significant funder, and with policy responsibility for quality, my Department would be well placed to make a submission to the Court once it publishes its notice in relation to the matter of the application for a SEO for the sector. I have indicated on many occasions that I will be very supportive of any reasonable measures aimed at improving pay and conditions of the Early Years sector. While my Department does not have direct control over the matter, it will continue to support any appropriate initiatives in this area.
In the last budget I also secured a 7% increase in capitation for the ECCE scheme, the first such rise in many years. It is my hope that this increase in funding will be reflected in pay within the sector.
The Programme for Government has committed to carrying out an independent review of the cost of providing quality childcare. This review is examining the costs faced by childcare providers in delivering quality childcare, including a survey of childcare providers. Following completion- the review is intended to be used to strengthen the evidence base underpinning future policy development and investment in early years. As such, it will feed into future policy development, including in relation to levels of payments to services.