Hundreds of childcare facilities are due to close on Wednesday, February 5th as providers, educators and parents plan to protest in Dublin.
The Early Years Alliance, which brings together organisations representing staff, providers and parents, said they are calling for a “sustainable solution to the worsening childcare crisis”.
The group said they believe thousands of workers, providers and parents will take to the streets, with protestors due to march to Leinster House. The Early Years Alliance has yet to confirm how many providers will close but that it expects "people from all over the country to march".
Elaine Dunne, chairwoman of the Federation of the Early Childhood Providers, said "we are calling on all those concerned by the worsening childcare crisis to join us on February 5th to say enough is enough".
“We are educators and need to be paid accordingly. The reason the insurance hike in the sector has hit us so hard, is because we are paid so little in the first place. The ECCE (Early Childhood Care and Education) grant pays us € 4.60 an hour, we only get paid for three hours a day. Sustainability is a real issue for providers,” she said.
Darragh O'Connor, Siptu's head of strategic organising, said the current Government funding model for the sector is making it "impossible" to deliver "high quality, child focused education and care".
“Despite qualifications and hard work, Early Years educators earn just € 11.45 on average, well below the living wage,” he said.
“The majority are struggling to make ends meet and will be unable to stay in their profession if things don’t change. That’s why we are calling for the introduction of the living wage in 2020 as the first step towards professional pay scales.”
Denise Mc Cormilla, chief executive of the National Childhood Network, said securing improved terms and conditions to support "sustainable and high quality Early Years services is essential for this country".
“This requires increased Government funds and a new funding model for service providers,” she said.
There are 4,500 childcare providers across the country. The Early Years Alliance was established in December 2019 and includes the Association of Childhood Professionals, the Federation of Early Childhood Providers, SIPTU, the National Community Childcare Forum, Seas Suas and the National Childhood Network.