Thursday, 27 May 2021
Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
80. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth his views on whether the childcare support schemes give sufficient recognition to the need to recognise qualifications and develop a career path for childcare staff; and if he is reviewing that aspect of the schemes. [25555/21]
I am committed to the further development of career pathways for those working in early learning and care and school-age childcare services. Establishing clear and supported career pathways is important both in improving recruitment and retention of staff, and in enhancing practitioners' continuing professional development, both of which support better outcomes for children.
First 5, the Whole-of-Government Strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families, commits to developing a Workforce Development Plan (WDP) for early learning and care and school-age childcare. Among other objectives, the WDP will set out plans for moving to a graduate-led workforce by 2028 and establishing a career framework, including role profiles, qualification requirements and career pathways.
The first phase of work in developing the WDP concluded in late 2020. A progress report on the first phase of work has recently been published on the gov.ie website (available at www.gov.ie/en/publication/26122f-workforce-development-plan-for-the-elcsac-sector/ ).
Phase two of work on the WDP, which began in February 2021, involves the preparation of detailed policy proposals by a number of working groups, one of which is specifically looking at the career framework and career pathways. The final WDP report is expected to be published by the end of 2021.
First 5 also commits to designing a new Funding Model for early learning and care and school-age childcare. An Expert Group is tasked with examining the current model of funding and ensuring that State funding delivers quality, affordable, sustainable and inclusive services. The Group’s Draft Guiding Principles to underpin a new funding model recognise the importance of the workforce in delivering quality services. The Draft Guiding Principles refer to the recruitment and retention of staff with the necessary qualifications; ongoing staff training and development; fair pay and working conditions; and a workforce which feels valued and is motivated to deliver the best possible service to children. The Group is due to report to me in November 2021.