Marches took place in Dublin, Cork and Sligo on Saturday calling for improved pay for professionals working in early childhood services and for the Government to provide significant strategic investment in the sector.
Chairwoman of the Association of Childhood Professionals Marian Quinn said both Government and society need to recognise early childhood care and education for the "hugely important public service that it is".
She said to date there had been only “empty words” about the importance of early childhood services and called for “strategic investment” in a “vital public service”. “It’s an investment now that you reap later. What we will end up spending on social welfare, justice, health and educational interventions will be a lot less in future if we invest in early childhood services now.”
She said those working in the sector needed to earn an “appropriate professional wage” and called for the Government to develop a nationally agreed pay scale for childhood service professionals, who she said were subsidising the true cost of services by virtue of low wages.
She called for the Government to subsidise early childhood services and said it would require a significant financial investment by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.