The SIPTU Big Start Campaign has said that the ‘Early Years Sector Profile Report’ by the State funding agency POBAL, which was published today (Thursday, 29th November), has revealed the negative impact that low pay for workers and high fees for parents has on the childcare sector SIPTU Sector Organiser, Darragh O’Connor, said: “The POBAL report clearly shows that the childcare sector is in the middle of an affordability and low pay crisis. Early Years professionals are earning on average just €11.20 per hour, annually this is €4229 less per year than the entry point recommended in a recent Mercer pay scale report. Meanwhile the cost of childcare for parents has increased by 2.2%, over the last 12 months, to €178 per week. This makes Ireland the second most expensive country for childcare fees in the EU. “Last week, the Government launched its First 5 children’s strategy. It’s ambition for a high quality, graduate led childcare sector is just fantasy when the qualified professionals who are working in it are earning less than the Living Wage. Unsurprisingly, low pay has resulted in staff turnover in the sector reaching a high of 24.7% per year.”  SIPTU Activist, Jessica Lee, said: “Pay and conditions for staff are directly linked to quality outcomes for children. The failure to address poor pay is undermining the quality agenda that our sector is working so hard to develop and sustain.” SIPTU Sector Organiser, Darragh O’Connor, added: “The high cost of childcare is forcing parents to make tough choices and is preventing some, mostly women, from going back to work. It’s clear that the current funding model is failing parents, educators and children. The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone, has committed to developing a ‘radical new funding model’, she must ensure that we get more than just the usual sticking plaster proposals.”