SIPTU and the Big Start Campaign are calling on political leaders to retain the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) in order to ensure that issues relevant to children remain a priority at the highest level of government. SIPTU Head of Campaigns and Organising, Darragh O’Connor, said: “Retaining the DCYA is vital. It not only ensures the voice of children but also those that educate and care for children, is heard. In February, 30,000 educators, providers and parents protested in Dublin to highlight the inadequate investment in Early Years learning. Reports that the incoming government is considering the scrapping of the DCYA is an affront to these parents and childcare providers.” Darragh O’Connor added: “The childcare situation during the current crisis shows the consequences of underfunding. Commitment to the implementation of a new funding model for Early Years should be at the centre of the Programme for Government. Fragmenting this responsibility across departments will ensure the necessary changes are not implemented. We are calling on the incoming government to make real improvements for children and their educators.” Early Years educator and advocate, Camilla Gulliver, said: “This country ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Scrapping the DCYA tells us that rights and entitlements for our children and youth are not valued. Is this the message a new government wants to deliver? It is vital that the Department is retained.”