Interest groups work together to set up early childhood care body

Professional body would engage with Government over funding and staffing levels

A number of organisations are working together to try and establish a professional body focused on early childhood education and care.

The move comes in the context of working conditions that, according to Siptu, see one in four workers in the sector changing jobs, or leaving the sector, every year.

"That number of people leaving their jobs every year disrupts the quality of the interaction with the children," according to Darragh O'Connor, Head of Organising and Campaigns with the Siptu trade union.

The sector employs approximately 25,000 people. Many of the women and men employed are qualified to degree level, but are working for the minimum wage with no stability in their employment conditions.


“These professionals are concerned about the continuing failure to properly implement necessary changes,” Mr O’Connor said.

The formation of a professional body would allow, amongst other matters, a more effective engagement with Government over matters to do with funding and staffing levels.

Working group

The Association of Childhood Professionals (ACP), Siptu, and the Irish Association of Academics in Early Childhood Education and Care in Higher Education (PLÉ), have formed a working group to explore the establishment of the professional body. It is hoped that the new body may be established within the coming year.

"This collaboration will harness expertise from all elements of the early childhood education and care profession, to inform and influence policy and practice, from inception to implementation," said ACP chairwoman Marion Quinn.

PLÉ chairwoman Dr Mary Moloney said early childhood education and care, as a profession, requires recognition and self- governance like any other established profession.

“Each of our three organisations represents a significant part of the workforce,” she said.

“Coming together to form a professional body will support having a collective voice and shared professional identity among all those working in early childhood education and care.”

It will facilitate involvement in the development of policy, standards, and a code of ethics for professional practice, she said.

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent