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Big Start meeting to seek more early years investment

Thursday, 16th March, 2017 1:01am

Early years educators are to meet on Leeside next week to discuss the lack of State funding in the sector.

SIPTU has organised the meeting and is inviting early years educators to attend a meeting about the ‘Big Start’ campaign.

The meeting will look at the issue of low-pay for workers and developing a network to campaign for improvements.

SIPTU organiser and Big Start campaign co-ordinator, Theresa Butler, said: “The Big Start campaign brings together early years educators, providers and parents to push for increased investment in early years services.

“It is focused on transforming the early years sector so that it is of a high quality and affordable for parents.”

To achieve this, Ms Butler says, early years education must be delivered by professionals who are valued for their contribution to society.

In attendance will be Sinn Féin TD for Cork South Central, Donnchadh O’Laoghaire, who is his party’s spokesperson on children and youth affairs.

All other Cork TDs and city councillors have also been invited to attend, organisers have said.

She added: “Our key message is that to deliver quality early years’ services for our children, we need to attract and retain qualified and competent educators in the sector. This can only be achieved if the qualifications and experience of these professionals are recognised with appropriate pay and conditions of employment. This requires adequate investment by the State in the sector.”

For further information on the Big Start campaign see bigstart.ie. The meeting will be held in Connolly Hall, Lapps Quay on 20 March at 7pm.

CALL TO SUPPORT

Meanwhile, the news of next week’s meeting came a day after a motion was proposed that Cork City Council support the Cork Early Years Alliance.

This alliance has several creches under its remit in and around Cork city.

Proposed by Cllr Tony Fitzgerald (Fianna Fáil) on Monday, the motion calls on the Government to double the child care funding to €9.20 per hour. It also asks that the Government provide additional staff grants for services for services affected by the recent childhood regulations change.

Sinn Féin Cllr Chris O’Leary supported the motion and said children are “the most precious things in our life.”

He said children are our “future innovators and teachers” and they should be given the best start in life. His party colleague Henry Cremin also supported the motion.

Fine Gael’s John Buttimer said he was “happy” to lend his support to Cllr Fitzgerald’s motion.

He described the current situation as a “complex one and has been bubbling under the surface for many years”.

Cllr Buttimer said the educators were coming into the sector with a large skill set and “we have to have the funding to match”.

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