Early childcare workers to require level 5 qualification

New regulations to include fresh inspection rules, says Minister for Children James Reilly

Minister for Children James Reilly said the investment required in early child care and education is considerable. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Minister for Children James Reilly said the investment required in early child care and education is considerable. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

All staff working with children in early years settings will be required to have a nationally recognised Level 5 qualification under new regulations to be published shortly, Minister for Children James Reilly has said.

Mr Reilly was speaking at an international conference in Dublin on the subject of monitoring quality in early childhood care and education.

The Minister said new inspection requirements would also accompany the regulations.

He said the conference was timely, given the recently-announced €85 million increase in investment in early childhood care and education in 2016.

“This additional investment, which will increase Government spending on early childhood care and education by 33 per cent, aims to improve affordability and accessibility of early childhood care and education,” he said.

Mr Reilly said delivering reforms in early childhood care and education would require a programme of “concerted action and investment over a number of years”.

He said: “The investment required is considerable; the OECD reports that Ireland’s investment in this area currently represents 0.5 per cent of GDP.

“This compares to an average across the OECD of 0.8 per cent, and Unicef’s international benchmark of 1 per cent of GDP.

“Based on current GDP, every 0.1 per cent increase in public expenditure on childcare requires additional investment of over €180 million.”

The Minister said the Government had demonstrated its committed to starting this programme of investment in Budget 2016.

He said the measures listed in the recent Budget will increase public expenditure on childcare by almost 0.1 per cent of GDP.