The Early Years Alliance has today (Friday, 10th January) announced that it will be holding a national protest march involving thousands of educators, providers and parents to demand a sustainable solution to the worsening childcare crisis in Dublin on Wednesday, 5th February. The Early Years Alliance brings together organisations representing Early Years staff, providers and parents. Federation of Early Childhood Providers Chairperson, Elaine Dunne, said: “We are calling on all those concerned by the worsening childcare crisis to join us on Wednesday 5th February to say enough is enough. We are educators and need to be paid accordingly. The reason the insurance hike in the sector has hit us so hard, is because we are paid so little in the first place. The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme grant pays us €4.60 an hour and we only get paid for three hours a day. Sustainability is a real issue for providers.” Association of Childhood Professionals Chairperson, Marian Quinn, said: “High quality services don't come cheap and we can't continue to subsidise the real cost of provision through low wages, unsustainable services and high fees for parents. The State must accept responsibility and significantly fund this vital public service. We cannot be in a position where impoverished staff are providing the foundation level in our education system. It is inequitable, unjust and immoral. Staff turnover is enormous because our profession is being exploited to meet political objectives. This has to stop.” SIPTU Head of Strategic Organising, Darragh O’Connor  said: “Early years educators across the country are committed to delivering high quality, child focused education and care. However, the current Government funding model for the sector is making it impossible to achieve this. Despite qualifications and hard work, Early Years educators earn just €11.45 on average, well below the Living Wage. The majority are struggling to make ends meet and will be unable to stay in their profession if things don’t change. That’s why we are calling for the introduction of the Living Wage of €12.30 per hour in 2020 as the minimum first step towards professional pay scales”. National Childhood Network CEO, Denise Mc Cormilla, said: “Securing improved terms and conditions to support sustainable and high quality Early Years services is essential for this country. This requires increased government funds and a new funding model for service providers” Seas Suas  Chairperson Regina Bushell said: “ Seas Suas continues to seek positive changes in the funding for early learning and care that will put Ireland on a par with most other EU states and supports the introduction of meaningful reforms to improve quality, affordability and sustainability in the sector.” At the protest, the Early Years Alliance will be highlighting its Election 2020 demands for the sector. These include the development of a funding model that supports affordable and accessible childcare for parents, high quality for children and sustainability for providers. The Early Years Alliance is also seeking adequate funding for the introduction of the Living Wage for all workers in the sector in 2020, as a first step towards a professional pay scale and the establishment of a single inspection process with a graded compliance system. The Early Years Alliance was formed in December 2019. It includes the Association of Childhood Professionals, the Federation of Early Childhood Providers, SIPTU, the National Community Childcare Forum, Seas Suas and the National Childhood Network.