Representatives of the SIPTU Big Start campaign for quality, affordable and accessible childcare have today (Thursday, 29th March) urged the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to give Early Years educators the same opportunities as school teachers have to complete child protection training. SIPTU Organiser, Theresa Butler, said: “The Department of Education and Skills has already given the green light to primary and secondary level teachers to take paid time off from work in order to complete child protection training. Unfortunately, the Department has not afforded the same opportunity to Early Years educators.“All organisations working with children and young people must provide child protection training for staff. While this is a positive development in the safeguarding of children, Early Years educators should not be expected to complete this training at their own expense. This is an unacceptable expectation and illustrates the impact of the lack of adequate funding in the sector.”She added: “The Big Start campaign is focused on winning recognition for Early Years educators. Childcare has long been neglected by the powers that be and this will continue unless professionals in the sector work together and stand united.”