SIPTU members have welcomed aspects of Budget 2018 for the Early Years sector, including a 7% increase in ECCE capitation and its extension to two years. However, the fundamental problems of the current Early Years funding system remain. SIPTU Sector Organiser Darragh O’Connor said: “Low pay has resulted in a staffing crisis, with qualified educators, managers and providers leaving the sector. A high turnover of staff has an impact on quality, but this budget does not address these issues. There is no guarantee the 7% ECCE increase will go towards pay and conditions. Indeed there is no additional funding for the care and education of children under the age of 2.8 years, or for those delivering it.  “Until a national pay scales is established, through an Sector Employment Order, working in Early Years will remain a low paid job.  The Government needs to make real commitment to fund a Sectoral Employment Order so that workers are recognised and rewarded for delivering a vital public service”.