The ‘Big Start’ Early Years campaign launched its submission on the Government’s planned Single Affordable Childcare Programme in the Mansion House, Dublin 2, today (Wednesday, 9th November). The submission highlights the need for high quality, affordable, accessible childcare services that are delivered by qualified, competent professionals who are appropriately remunerated. The Single Affordable Childcare Programme is to be introduced by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs in September 2017 and will provide subsidised childcare places to families. Speaking at the launch, the Head of Advocacy at Barnardos, June Tinsley, said: “The Government’s commitment in Budget 2017 to invest €35 million to deliver affordable childcare to all families is a crucial step forward. Access to high quality, affordable childcare is proven to reduce child poverty and we will monitor progress in the implementation of these plans.” She added: “As outlined in the Big Start submission, a subsidised system is fairer for everyone; childcare providers, staff, parents and most importantly, children. However, it must be of high quality to yield the best results.” SIPTU Sector Organiser, Darragh O’Connor, said: “Children deserve access to quality childcare but when the average rate of pay is €10.26 per hour fewer qualified professionals see a future in the sector. The difficulty of recruiting and retaining qualified and skilled staff is having a direct impact on quality in the sector. If we want quality childcare then we have to address wages as well as affordability.” The CEO of the National Childhood Network, Denise Mc Cormilla, also addressed the launch.