SIPTU Big Start Campaign activists launched their pre-budget statement which outlines measures to end the crisis in Early Years education at an event this morning (Thursday, 4th October) in the Childcare Centre, Ballybough, Dublin 3. SIPTU Sector Organiser Darragh O’Connor said: “The Early Years sector is in crisis. Parents pay the second highest fees in the OECD while qualified educators are paid on average just €10.88 per hour. This is because the Republic of Ireland spends just 0.2% of its Modified Gross National Income on Early Years education and care. This compares to an EU average of 0.7% and 1% in Sweden. This low level of funding is compounded by a competitive ‘market model’ approach which is unfit to deliver such a vital public service.”   He added: “The Government needs to make a real commitment to children and parents by significantly increasing investment and ensure that wages in the sector rise and fees for parents are reduced. We need a new funding model that is fit for purpose and pay scales that reward the professionalism of those who deliver the service.” Early Years manager and SIPTU member, Treasa Commins, said: “Every day I see the difference that high quality Early Years education and care makes to the lives of children. However, across our sector, low pay is undermining the drive for quality. Average pay of just €10.88 per hour means that qualified educators cannot afford to stay in a job they love, resulting in a staff turnover of almost 30% per year.” Big Start Pre Budget Submission