©2019 SeasSuas

MAKE OUR VOICES HEARD

Ireland’s early education and childcare (EEC) sector is at a crossroads – costs for providers are rising, the burden of regulation is increasing, the demands from the State have grown and further changes are coming for the sector from proposed new legislation due in days.

Yet, there is still no long-term strategy for the sector. The problems outlined above, alone, are creating huge challenges for the sector, but add to this the lack of vision for the sector and it is clear that independent providers need a stronger voice.

 

We cannot be passive bystanders as decisions are made, without our input, which directly impact us, our sector, the children and families who rely on us each day.

That is why earlier this year PEEP, Private Early Education Providers, relaunched as Seas Suas. We are a stronger, more focused national organisation representing independent providers driven by a strong desire to affect positive change in our sector. We want a sustainable, well-funded and well-resourced EEC sector which delivers for children and their families.  

 

As providers we face a number of immediate challenges which we must now address as an urgent priority. These include:

  • No long-term strategy for childcare and early education in Ireland, with the Department of Children consistently pushing this out. Our sector needs certainty to allow us to plan for the future. We know as providers that the existing piecemeal changes, rather than a well-thought out long-term plan, are disruptive and can cause more problems than they solve –
    that needs to change.

 

  • Costs are rising at an unprecedented rate for independent providers. While costs are increasing the State continues to add to the burden faced by providers such as through requiring them to carry the burden of administering State schemes but without sufficiently supporting providers to do so.

  • A skills shortage in the sector has made it hard for many providers to find the staff needed to keep our services running. This is making it difficult to meet demand for places in some areas. With employment growing and more parents returning to full time work, this problem will worsen.

 

  • Short-sighted and disjointed regulations that can hamper growth and threaten the sustainability of providers. We all want to see quality EEC services and a well-regulated sector, but the current approach to regulating is ignoring the practical consequences for providers. We need to see an open, consultative approach to policymaking which puts the EEC providers’ perspective to the fore.
     

 

To ensure that Ireland’s EEC sector can continue to provide high-quality services, and move forward in a progressive way that benefits Irish children and families, we can’t sit idly by but must make our voices heard.

 

We want to help shape the future of our sector and in the short three months since our launch, Seas Suas has been working hard to do so.​

OUR 10-POINT PLAN FOR REFORM OF ECC

  1. Increase state investment

  2. Address the staffing crisis

  3. Improve staff salaries

  4. Reduce the burden of state charges

  5. Decrease level of administrative work

  6. Pay more for non-contact time

  7. Greater consultation with providers

  8. Speed up Garda clearance process

  9. Enhance capacity for children under the age of 2

  10. Review planning guidelines for EEC

Since then we have been active in pushing Seas Suas’s reform agenda, by

 

  • Engaging with key decisionmakers including within the Department of Children, Alan Farrell TD, Chair of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs, Anne Rabbitte TD, business community representatives such as IBEC;

 

  • Raising childcare issues in the Dail with relevant Government representatives;

 

  • Debating the key issues through national and local media interviews such as the Sean O’Rourke programme on Radio One;

 

  • Attending the Department of Children’s National Early Years Forum, representing independent providers; or

 

  • Participating in the Independent Review of Costs (currently) being undertaking by the Department of Children.

 

With the publication of the legislation to underpin a Universal Affordable Childcare Scheme promised in the coming days, there’s a clear need for providers to work together to make sure our perspective is heard and our ‘on-the-job’ experience is a central part of policymaking for the future of early education and childcare.

 

In the months ahead, we have the opportunity to do this, but we need your support too.

BECOME A MEMBER

The success of Seas Suas and our reform agenda—and a sustainable future for Ireland’s EEC sector—depends on you.

 

Bring your voice to the debate. Join independent EEC providers across Ireland and become a member of Seas Suas today.

 

New and existing members can renew their annual membership here also.