Tuesday, 14 February 2017
Department of Children and Youth Affairs
Child Care Services Staff
47. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if her attention has been drawn to the difficulties being experienced by the operators of private creche facilities in recruiting and retaining staff; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6714/17]
I am very much aware of the difficulties being reported regarding the recruitment and retention of early years staff. The matter has been discussed at the Early Years Forum which I chair, and in other fora with my Department.
We are working with the Department of Education and Skills to develop a new Early Years workforce plan. This will examine workforce supply issues.
I am also aware that pay and conditions of staff is a significant barrier to retaining staff in the sector. Whilst my Department is not an employer of childcare workers, we are a significant funder. I am committed to the development of high quality services in this country and it has been proven that high quality care is dependent on a workforce that feels valued. My Department is working with the sector to explore how we can improve retention rates. The Programme for Government contains 14 commitments to improving access to high quality, affordable childcare. The Affordable Childcare Scheme I am introducing this year will provide an important infrastructure for future investment in the Early Years sector.
It is clear that we need to focus collaboratively on how best to make the early years sector as attractive and personally rewarding place in which to work. I think that pay is only one issue, although, clearly an important one. The fact that we are investing considerably increased resources in the sector will also be important. In Budget 2017 I secured a 35% increase in childcare funding, up by €120m to €466m. This was on top of a 35% increase in Budget 2016 also.
These increases reflect the emphasis I am placing on developing a quality service with appropriately supported staff. In this regard, the City & County Childcare Committees are assisting services who experience difficulties in recruiting or retaining staff, and the Learner Funds are in place to support staff in achieving minimum qualification requirements, both regulatory and contractual.
Childcare workers are part of a growing sector, which the Government is strongly supporting. I believe that by working together we can ensure that it is a viable and strong sector which makes a significant contribution to the care and personal development of our children.