Good quality early childhood care and education (ECCE) is good for children, for society and for the economy. Yet Ireland spends only 0.13% of gross national income on early childhood education. This compares with 1% of gross national income being spent in Denmark, 0.7% in Spain and just over 0.3% in the UK.
Despite the National Economic and Social Forum proposals for a high quality system of EECE by 2015, steps to actively invest have been slow to take hold, with concerns raised recently about the quality of some of the services
The costs of childcare in Ireland are high, often costing the same as mortgage repayments, which places a heavy burden on families and can be the last straw for women who are trying to return to work.
Despite the barriers, there has been a 95% take-up of the Free Pre-School Year, proving a real desire from parents to provide their children with quality early years education. With a strong body of evidence showing the long-term beneficial effects that good quality ECCE has on children’s educational, health and cognitive outcomes, this is hardly surprising.
And the obvious direct benefits to children are not the only reason to invest in ECCE. There is also a measurable effect on the economy. The NESF found that for every €1 invested in quality ECCE, a return of €4-7.50 can be realised.
Even in tough times this Government must prioritise, protect and invest in our early years infrastructure. SVP wants a clear road map for the development of early years services based on quality training for staff and quality services for our young children. Nothing less is good enough. Investment in early education is a necessity to ensure that our children have the best chance to reach their potential, lead rewarding lives and contribute positively to society.
Join our campaign if you think our youngest children are worth the investment.