A new report has addressed the many challenges faced by the early years and school age care sector in Cork.

New early years report is welcomed on Leeside

A report recommending “transformative” changes to the early years and school age care sector has been welcomed as a step in the right direction for Cork’s children.

Welcoming the report was Early Childhood Ireland who see it as an important step to address the many challenges its 366 member settings in Cork face every day.

The organisation thanked local TDs and Committee members Michael Creed (Fine Gael) and Sean Sherlock (Labour) for their commitment to identifying potential solutions to Cork’s early years and school age care issues and said it was particularly pleased that several recommendations and policy proposals, which its CEO, Teresa Heeney, and Director of Policy, Frances Byrne, outlined to the cross-Party Committee in November, were included in the final report.

CEO, Teresa Heeney, said: “This report is an important step in the right direction to address the many challenges facing our members in Cork, and we look forward to further engagement with the Committee and all Oireachtas members to highlight the importance of early years and school age care.

“There are clear benefits to the estimated 22,067 children attending settings in Cork, as well as their parents, and families who interact with educators delivering quality experiences for children every day.”

Director of Policy, Frances Byrne, said the organisation is pleased to see that the Committee has adopted many of Early Childhood Ireland’s policy proposals in its report.

She said: “Developing a coherent five-year plan to implement additional investment to reach €4 billion by early 2029 would be transformative for children in Ireland.

“We also welcome the Committee’s support for our proposals on using better data, key measures to address the administrative burden on staff, transitioning to a single agency to oversee the sector, and establishing a high-level response team to manage potential closures of early years and school age care settings.

“As the Committee rightly recognises, our sector has undergone huge change over the last number of years, and this needs to be effectively managed to fully reap the benefits.

“We now need to see real action to implement the Committee’s recommendations. Doing so will put us further on the path to delivering a world-class system that Ireland’s children and families deserve,” added Ms Byrne.

Early Childhood Ireland is the leading national children’s advocacy and membership organisation, advocating for an effective and inclusive system which values, supports and invests in childhood, children, and services.