Last week (Wednesday, 21st February) over fifty Early Years educators and providers from across County Wexford came together to launch a local Big Start campaign. The event, which took place in the Presentation Centre in Enniscorthy, was part of the wider national SIPTU Big Start campaign for quality, affordable and accessible childcare with decent pay for those providing it. SIPTU Sector Organiser and Big Start campaign co-ordinator, Darragh O’Connor, said: “There are approximately 660 Early Years educators in over 140 facilities in County Wexford responsible for 4,880 children. The average rate of pay for a qualified educator is €10.53 per hour, well below the recognised living wage of €11.50 per hour. That is unsustainable and unacceptable.” “We know that high quality Early Years services delivered by well trained staff has a positive impact on children's health, well-being and education. However, low levels of funding by successive governments are keeping wages low and fees high in the sector. We need to increase investment from the current 0.3% of GDP to the UNICEF recommended 1%. Simply put, parents cannot afford to pay more and educators cannot afford to live on less.” Early Years provider, Peter Smith, said: “Providers, educators and parents are all struggling. Unless we start working together nothing is going to change. If we want affordable, high quality childcare we need to build a childcare union that can fight for educators, providers and parents.” The next meeting of the Big Start campaign in county Wexford will take place in the Presentation Centre, Enniscorthy on Wednesday, 21st March, at 7.00 p.m. The meeting is open to all providers and childcare educators in the county.