Written answers

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth

Childcare Qualifications

Photo of Denis NaughtenDenis Naughten (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

334. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth if he will review the three-year experience rule to qualify for the graduate premium in view of the fact that such graduates can complete a further two-year education programme and gain employment as a primary school teacher; his views on whether such criteria will further drive the haemorrhage of graduate staff from the sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17319/22]

Photo of Roderic O'GormanRoderic O'Gorman (Dublin West, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

First 5, the whole-of-Government strategy for babies, young children and their families, recognises that the workforce is at the heart of high-quality early learning and care (ELC). The evidence suggests children achieve better outcomes when staff are well qualified. This is undisputed internationally. First 5 seeks to continue to build an appropriately skilled and sustainable professional workforce, and includes a commitment to achieve a graduate-led workforce by 2028.

In Budget 2022, I announced the introduction of a new Core Funding stream from September 2022. Core Funding has a number of objectives, including to support improved quality, affordability, sustainability and the achievement of the commitment to a graduate-led workforce. Of the total of €221m in full year costs, €38m is allocated to contribute to support graduates to be Lead Educators across ELC and to support graduates as Managers in ELC or combined ELC and school-age childcare (SAC) services. This aspect of Core Funding will encourage employment of graduates as Lead Educators across all ELC.

The requirement in Core Funding that a person will have to have 3 years’ experience in the sector in order for the service to be allocated a Graduate Premium is unchanged from the rule that currently governs the payment of Higher Capitation rates in the ECCE programme. This rule has been in place since the ECCE programme was first introduced in 2010. Under Core Funding, the availability of a graduate premium is extended beyond the ECCE programme to all funded provision of ELC.

As with the current requirements for Higher Capitation payments in the ECCE programme, the 3 years’ experience requirement for the Graduate Premium in Core Funding can be met through any paid experience working in either ELC or SAC, including part-time work, and the paid experience can be gained at any time, including before an individual undertook their degree qualification.

The Graduate Premium is specifically for those who are in positions of leadership, either as Manager of a service or as lead educator with a group of children, which may also include leadership or supervision of other staff in the room. It is expected to support the commitments to the strengthening of career pathways for those working in the sector set out in Nurturing Skills, the Workforce Plan for ELC and SAC 2022-2028, which I launched last December.

Supported by the Higher Capitation payments in the ECCE programme, the proportion of staff in ELC services with a relevant degree has risen from 12% in 2012 to 34% in 2021, as reported in Nurturing Skills.

Nurturing Skills makes a number of commitments to support the move to a graduate-led workforce, including the commitment to remove the exclusive link between higher capitation payments and the ECCE programme through Core Funding. Alongside monitoring implementation of all aspects of Nurturing Skills, I will continue to keep the requirement for 3 years' experience in the Graduate Premium for Core Funding under review over the coming years.


No comments

Log in or join to post a public comment.