The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, today announced a programme of nationwide consultation events with early learning and care and school-age childcare practitioners on a Workforce Development Plan and a new Funding Model. The consultation seeks to start a national conversation on the future of the workforce and the future of funding within the sector.
Delivering on a commitment in First 5: A Whole-of-Government Strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families 2019-2028 First 5: A Whole-of-Government Strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families, the consultation will be run through the 30 City and County Childcare Committees (CCCs) across the country.
Consultation events will run between 19 March and 2 April 2020 across every CCC area. To facilitate as many providers and staff as possible, the events will take place in the evenings and in larger areas multiple events will be offered.
Announcing the consultation programme, Minister Zappone said:
To ensure everyone can have their say on these important issues, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs will also open an online survey and call for submissions. This will be launched after the conclusion of the consultation events.
The Department of Children and Youth Affairs began the process to develop a Workforce Development Plan with the Department of Education and Skills in 2019. It also established an international expert group in 2019 to develop a new Funding Model for the early learning and care and school-age childcare sector. Both Steering Groups are now seeking to hear the views of those working in the sector.
Specific issues for discussion at the local events will include:
- attracting and retaining a diverse workforce
- ensuring availability and accessibility of provision
- making services more affordable and sustainable
- moving towards a graduate–led workforce in centre based care
- raising the quality of services
- supporting career pathways
- titles to describe roles in the sector
- training and development
The consultation events aim to explore solutions to improve the quality of services for children, to improve pay and conditions for staff, to ensure services are accessible by all children who need them, and to reduce costs for parents, in a sustainable sector. The events will include discussion of how to support professional development and make careers in the sector more attractive.
Further information on the events is available from your local City/County Childcare Committee and will be published on first5fundingmodel.gov.ie shortly.