Heartened by the support of parents and fellow industry staff and owners, Ms McCabe again reiterated the crisis facing early years providers.
“This past year has been the hardest year I have ever experienced in my 15 years in business. I have been unable to pay myself for two of the ten months the government supposedly ‘fund us’. I work in my school as one of the teachers, I also work most evenings and weekends on the administration side of things, which has practically quadrupled in the past year,” she said.
At yesterday’s protest outside Dáil Eireann, many creche facilitators stated the over regulation and administrative work was now ridiculous and needed to be streamlined.
“When it gets to the stage of not being able to afford to pay yourself, you’ve got to ask, where is this business model going wrong?” said Ms McCabe. “The answer is simply that the government is underfunding us to the point of putting small montessori school owners out of business.
“To give a brief overview, the Federation of Early Childhood Providers and its members are struggling to stay in business since the Department reduced our ECCE funds by €13 per child, per week. I previously got €82 per week for having a graduate team. I now get €69 per week.
“In a bid to appease us and fill in the gap they threw us a bone, with core funding. In theory the scheme sounds great, but its biggest flaw is that it views all services as the same and unfortunately, this has resulted in most of the funding going to the large creches and chains. “
Now, a serious amount of early years providers are facing closure as their businesses are no longer viable.
Ms McCabe noted that she has several professional qualifications and most industry staff have four year degrees, masters and more. And yet, unlike primary school teachers, they are not covered for sick pay, maternity leave and not paid during the summer holidays.
This, she, claims, makes it hard to retain good, qualified staff, who struggle to get a mortgage. The Minister should, she says, treat early years staff as educators and implement a suitable contract to ensure summer pay, as per teachers. Sixty four creche facilities have closed this week from Tuesday and will conclude their protest strike tomorrow, Thursday 27.
See full coverage in this week’s Dublin Gazette newspaper, out tomorrow in shops across Dubin.
Featured Image: Brights Sparks Montessori students Myah Mukool, Olivia Lambert and Leah Kiernan
Pictures: Alison O’Hanlon
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