Pay issues in childcare 'bad for sector, but also bad for society'

"This has been a real crisis for some time, and it is being exacerbated now by cost-of-living increases.”
Pay issues in childcare 'bad for sector, but also bad for society'

Collette Fraser, a Cork-based Early Years Educator, said that low pay is a consistent issue for her and other Early Years educators.

Cork SIPTU representatives are calling for better pay for childcare workers to deal with the staffing crisis in the sector, as Cork staff are paid an average of less than €15 per hour.

SIPTU Organiser for Cork, Eva Mitchell, said that low pay is having a detrimental impact on the sustainability of services, as the worsening staffing crisis is at the root of many other issues.

“I am regularly contacted by managers who are struggling to recruit and retain talented educators because pay is simply too low in the sector..

"This has been a real crisis for some time, and it is being exacerbated now by cost-of-living increases.”

She highlighted that a lead educator with an honour’s degree is still only earning on average €13.21 and hour, while across county Cork, the average rate of pay for all staff, including managers, is €14.35 per hour.

She said that “workers simply cannot afford to stay in their chosen profession”.

“This is bad for workers who cannot make ends meet, it is also bad for providers who are struggling to recruit and retain staff. 

The outcome of this high turnover of staff is an undermining of the quality of services for children,” she said.

“The situation is getting worse, with the most recent survey by state agency POBAL finding that the average staff turnover for childcare services in county Cork is 29% per year,” she added.

Situation in Cork 

Collette Fraser, a Cork-based Early Years Educator, said that low pay is a consistent issue for her and other Early Years educators.

“We are having to compromise if we want to stay in the role that we love by barely being able to make ends meet. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford to stay and that is why we are seeing so many experienced professionals leave their positions. 

"This is bad for our sector, but it is also bad for society. We are losing talented people at a time when the demand for early years places is at an all-time high,” she said.

Ms Fraser called for a pay deal that would “recognise and reward” Early Years educators.

“Improved rates of pay have been proposed at pay talks between SIPTU and childcare employers’ facilities by the Workplace Relations Commission. These new rates would help end the staffing crisis by lifting thousands of Early Years educators out of poverty pay,” she said.

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