The SIPTU Big Start Campaign has said low pay will continue to undermine the delivery of quality Early Years education. Union representatives welcomed the announcement by the Government today (Wednesday, 5th September) of increased funding for childcare supports and a new regulatory framework but insisted that it must tackle the problem of low pay and precarious work in the sector as a priority. SIPTU Sector Organiser, Darragh O’Connor, said: “The announcement today is a step in the right direction towards ensuring that children are safe and the quality of childcare provided continues to increase. High quality childcare benefits children in terms of their cognitive and social development. It also improves their school readiness and life outcomes. The impact is even greater for children from lower socio-economic backgrounds. “However, the quality agenda in childcare is being severely undermined by a worsening staffing crisis. An average rate of pay of just €10.88 per hour is driving qualified educators out of the sector. The most recent report by POBAL on the ‘Early Year’s Sector Profile’ puts staff turnover at 28.2% per year.” SIPTU Activist and Early Years educator, Jessica Lee, said: “Until the low remuneration of Early Years educators is addressed we will still rightly feel we are not adequately recognised and are undervalued. We need the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone, to make good on her commitment to radically overhaul the Early Years funding system and ensure that educators in the sector earn a decent wage for their invaluable work.” SIPTU is the union for workers in the Early Childhood Education and Care Sector. It is organising workers together with other advocacy groups to campaign for high quality, affordable and accessible Early Years education delivered by professionals paid a decent wage.