SIPTU along with several other Early Years organisations have today (Friday, 1st May) launched a Model of Early Years and School Age Services which has long term benefits for children, families, the economy and society. SIPTU Head of Campaigns and Organising, Darragh O’Connor, said: “We are calling on the next government to negotiate and implement a new public model for Early Years. This new model of funding and service provision will recognise the essential contribution of private and community service providers and staff to the provision of high-quality services that are accessible and affordable for parents.” Chairperson of Play, Dr. Mary Moloney, said: “In this model, with increased government investment, the State will assume the responsibility for funding salaries and support the cost of service delivery. This would substantially reduce costs for both providers and parents. Raising pay and supporting the sustainability of services would address the current recruitment and retention crisis, enhance the overall quality of provision for children and support the retention and expansion of a graduate led workforce.” Director of National Women’s Council of Ireland, Orla O’Connor, said: “This is a critical moment to establish public childcare in Ireland, which is essential for both the predominantly female workforce and for women and families. We cannot go back to having the highest childcare fees in Europe, alongside some of the lowest paid workers. This is our opportunity to substantially increase funding and tackle the crisis in affordability.” Chairperson of ACP, Marian Quinn, said: “There is so much great work happening in ECEC and SAC services in Ireland. We want to strengthen that by reducing costs to parents, paying staff professional wages and ensuring services are sustainable with all costs fully covered. This new model of funding must be developed in collaboration with service providers and service users. Only then will we be in a position to deliver and maintain high quality education and care for all children.” The other organisations backing the proposal are the Association of Childhood Professionals (ACP), Barnardos, BLÁTHÚ Steiner Early Childhood Association, Gaeloideachas, Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Men In Childcare, National Childhood Network, National Community Childcare Forum, PLÉ: The Irish Association of Academics in Early Childhood Education and Care in Higher Education, Saint Nicholas Montessori Society of Ireland, SIPTU and the Union of Students of Ireland. To view the full set of proposals click here.