A delegation from the SIPTU Big Start Campaign will meet with Galway County Councillors to inform them about the growing crisis within the Early Years education sector, in the Malt House, Mountbellew, County Galway, on Monday, 22nd May, at 2.00 p.m. Those attending on behalf of the Big Start Campaign will include Early Years educators, childcare managers and providers. Claire Shaughnessy, an Early Years educator in Kinvara, said: “I love my job. However, if I did not have a passion for educating and caring for young children there would be little else to motivate me to stay in the sector. Early Years educators are pushed to the limits and I believe it is long past time that our Government acknowledges their hugely important contribution to society.” Deborah Reynolds, who works as an Early Years educator in East Galway, said: “I have spent much sweat and tears, as well as taken on a large loan, in order to secure a Level 7 qualification in Early Years Care and Education.  I have done this in order to improve my ability to deliver the highest quality Early Years education. However, my educational achievement does nothing to improve my weekly pay cheque.”  She added: “I work in a second job every Saturday to supplement my income. I will also have to sign on at the local social welfare office for the summer, because like many Early Years educators I only have a 38 week a year contract.”   Sandra Barrins, an Early Years provider from Galway City, said: “I am embarrassed at the low level of pay I can provide to staff for only 38 weeks, due to a lack of Government funding”.She added “I am also angered that self-employed providers do not receive any payment while unemployed for the summer months and therefore have to live on 183 days of pay for the year with no holiday or bank holiday pay.” NUIG Early Years Studies Lecturer, Dr. Sheila Garrity, said: “Early Childhood Education and Care has shifted significantly from the traditional notion of ‘minding’ to facilitating children’s early learning and development. We know this is a crucial time for young children and these professionals contribute to the creation of a strong  foundation for life-long learning. They deserve to be properly remunerated for this contribution.” SIPTU Organiser and Big Start Campaign co-ordinator, Annette Carpenter, said: “The Early Years Sector is in crisis and needs to change. Our key message is that to deliver quality Early Years services for our children, we need to attract and retain qualified and competent educators in the sector.  “This can only be achieved if the qualifications and experience of these professionals are recognised with appropriate pay and conditions of employment and this will require adequate investment by the State.” For further information on the Big Start see www.bigstart.ie or visit the Big Start Campaign Facebook Page.