Wexford SIPTU reps say recruitment and retention issues could close crèches – ‘Most services I visit are understaffed and struggle to recruit new workers’

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DESPITE a chronic lack of childcare services in certain areas of Wexford, a new survey from SIPTU’s ‘Big Start’ campaign for early years workers shows that some childcare facilities are even facing closure over an inability to recruit and retain staff.

he survey, carried out among nearly 2,000 managers and staff in the Early Years (childcare) sector, showed that 95% of those surveyed felt that an inability to recruit or retain staff could negatively impact the service they provide, or in some cases even result in closure.

The survey shows that 39% of early years educators are actively looking for work outside of their profession, with low pay cited as being the main reason. 64% of managers and owners surveyed said that recruitment challenges will affect the quality of services, 56% said it would make it difficult to retain staff to child ratios and 39% said it could potentially lead to the closure of their service.

An early years educator from Wexford, Thomas Dowling says that the government needs to build on initial progress and properly recognise the contribution of people within the sector.

“Many services are struggling to hire and retain staff due to poor pay in the sector,” he said. “This is bad for staff and children alike as high turnover undermines the quality of care for children. Big Start campaigned for better pay and conditions which was secured in budget in 2022. This historic pay deal will raise thousands of workers out of the poverty zone. However, there is still more work to be done. Big start is calling on the government to build on this foundation in budget 2023 and recognise the contribution early years educators deliver in Irish society.”

SIPTU Head of Strategic Organising Darragh O’Connor said that the new “core funding” announced by the government will “raise thousands of, mostly female, workers out of poverty”.

Local SIPTU ‘Big Start’ organiser Lenka Halouzkova says that investment in early years is “absolutely crucial” in the 2023 budget.

“Most services I visit are understaffed and struggle to recruit new early years workers,” she said. “The majority of managers and providers are under tremendous pressure to prepare services for reopening in September. Better pay will stop people leaving the sector and attract new early years students and graduates.”

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