Early years and school age care and education is a profession. To ensure that our profession is recognised, respected and valued, we need to stand together as a strong and unified voice.
Following discussions with members throughout the country, the Association of Childhood Professionals (ACP) organised a rally from 1-3pm on Tuesday 17th February 2015, outside Dáil Éireann. The purpose of this rally was to highlight the importance of early childhood education and care and the vital role played by childhood professionals in supporting the children and families at this foundation stage of development.
One of the key messages of this rally was that we are subsidising, by virtue of our low wages, (and the voluntary time required for meeting with parents, admin, maintenance etc) the early childhood education and care system in Ireland and that we can no longer afford to do this so we are demanding that the government steps in and recognises and accepts their responsibility to provide sufficient funding to adequately resource all areas of high quality provision.
As state policy has changed and developed the Early Years Sector has readily engaged ‘for the good of the child’. This engagement has occurred despite lack of meaningful consultation with our profession and with few additional resources to support the implementation of these policies e.g. Aistear, Síolta, Qualifications, Regulations, ECCE Scheme, TEC Schemes, etc. This compliance has resulted in a profession that is undervalued and under-resourced for the role that it plays in supporting the youngest citizens of this state. Many members of our profession are on little more than minimum wage and we are losing qualified, experienced personnel who can no longer afford to remain in the profession. Earning a professional wage and desiring to support a child’s development should not be mutually exclusive. This rally provided the opportunity for us to stand together and demand a change of attitude and policy that will result in the positive development of our profession.
Over 2,500 people attended the rally, representing the 25,000 professionals in Early Years Care and Education. Professor Noirin Hayes, Senator Katherine Zappone and Robert Troy TD were among those invited to speak at the rally.
Michele Akerlind and Sara O’Donnell travelled to Dublin as representatives for Cheeky Cherubs. Although our three centres stayed open on the day to facilitate the families that attend Cheeky Cherubs, we supported the rally and showed our support on the day by turning our centres red! We invited the children to wear red along with the team. Sara also featured on The Last Word with Matt Cooper that evening and was a great ambassador for those in the Early Years.
Hopefully this rally will be the start of a positive change for providers, educators, parents and children.
Let’s work together to make a difference for all children