SIPTU representatives have said that Budget 2019 has failed to address the deep staffing crisis in Early Years education. SIPTU Sector Organiser, Darragh O’Connor, said: “The Government claims it wants a high quality, affordable and professional Early Years’ Sector but fails to deliver on this aspiration. While some measures announced today slightly reduce the cost of childcare for some parents it is merely a token gesture. Our members believe that Budget 2019 is ultimately a missed opportunity to deliver for educators and providers. “The childcare sector is in the middle of a staffing crisis. This budget fails to recognise and reward workers in the sector and will do nothing to alleviate this crisis. Low levels of government investment mean that qualified Early Years educators earn just €10.88 per hour. Many workers are also on precarious 15 hour a week, 38 week a year contracts. This is unsustainable.” He added: “Unsurprisingly, this has resulted in a staff turnover rate of 28% per year as educators struggle to make ends meet. The crisis has undermined the drive to improve quality in the sector. Ireland spends just 0.2% of its GDP on Early Years education. This compares to an EU average of 0.7% and 1% in Sweden. This low level of funding is compounded by a competitive ‘market model’ approach which is unfit to deliver such a vital public service.