Several politicians called for increased investment in the Early Years sector at a meeting of the SIPTU Big Start Campaign in St. Peters Parish Centre, Bray, County Wicklow, on Monday (8th May). Among the politicians to voice his support for increased investment and recognition for workers in the Early Years sector was Minister for State, Andrew Doyle. He said that he was “happy to support the campaign and ensure that the issues raised stay on the political agenda”. Several Wicklow County Councillors, who attended the meeting, also voiced their support for the Big Start Campaign and the call for increased government investment in the Early Years sector. Gill Gray was Among the Early Years service providers who attended the meeting. She said: “From birth to six years of age are the most critical years of a child’s development. Many studies have highlighted the positive affect of Early Years services to children’s development. However, the state fails to value and respect Early Years educators by underfunding the sector as a whole and expecting them to work long hours for the minimum wage. “These educators have the key responsibility of moulding our children to become educated, responsible and socially adept citizens but they themselves are among the lowest paid workers of any sector. It is a nonsensical situation.” SIPTU Organiser, Shonagh Byrne, said: “The Early Years sector is in crisis. Parents are paying high fees, yet providers are struggling to make ends meet and educators are under-paid and undervalued. The key message of the Big Start Campaign is that to build a quality Early Years sector for our children, the government needs to increase investment.” For further information on the Big Start Campaign see or visit the Big Start Campaign Facebook Page.