Thousands of Early Years educators, providers and parents will call for a ‘new deal’ for childcare at a protest march in Dublin, today (Wednesday, 5th February). The march will assemble at 11.30 a.m. in Parnell Square, Dublin 1. Dublin 1 The ‘Together for Early Years’ coalition is calling on the next government to increase funding so that it reduces fees for parents, increases pay for educators and supports the sustainability of services. SIPTU Head of Strategic Organising and Campaigns, Darragh O’Connor, said: “There is a real crisis in childcare. More than 60% educators earn less than the Living Wage of €12.30 per hour and parents are paying some of the highest fees in Europe. The next government has a choice, will it continue with a failing system, or will it invest in a new system that delivers for parents, educators, providers and children.” Chairperson of the Association of Childhood Professionals, Marian Quinn, said: “‘Together for Early Years’ is a collaborative call from our profession for respect and dignity in our work. We are at breaking point and can't continue subsidising the true cost of early childhood education and care by virtue of our low wages. We have to be able to afford our own lives.” Federation of Early Childhood Providers Chairperson, Elaine Dunne, said: “We are calling for a fair, equitable and streamlined inspection process for childcare facilities. A graded compliance process is paramount and must be introduced. The massive inconsistencies that currently exist among inspectorates must end.” Seas Suas Chairperson, Regina Bushell, said: “You cannot improve pay and conditions for staff, provide affordability for parents and achieve sustainability for providers without a massive increase in government funding for Early Years learning and care.” ‘Together for Early Years’ is calling on the next Government to:  Double the funding to early childhood education and care (ECEC) services on an incremental basis over the lifetime of the next government to bring Ireland closer to the EU average Provide the necessary funding and mechanism for a Living Wage for Early Years educators in 2020 as a first step towards professional pay and recognition. Introduce a new funding model that supports affordability and accessibility for parents, high quality experiences for children and professional pay and conditions for educators, as committed to in First 5, the Government strategy for babies, young children and their families. Establish a streamlined inspection process with a graded compliance system. Support effective policy development by engagement with the ECEC sector through respectful negotiation and a co-design approach.  The full campaign platform with references is available HERE