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escalating difficulties Over third of childcare facilities face cuts or closing down due to 'staffing crisis'

A survey of over 3,000 managers and workers to be published today finds recruitment is a massive issue, with 70pc of managers finding it extremely difficult to hire staff

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Darragh O’Connor of Siptu

Darragh O’Connor of Siptu

Darragh O’Connor of Siptu

Over a third of childcare managers fear closure or service cuts in the coming months due to a "staffing crisis".

A survey of over 3,000 managers and workers to be published today finds recruitment is a massive issue, with 70pc of managers finding it extremely difficult to hire staff.

Another 25pc said they found it difficult.

The Early Years Staffing Survey Report, conducted this month, says low pay is the "biggest push factor" for those leaving the sector.

It finds the pandemic was not a significant reason workers left the sector, although they faced a greater workload due to Covid-19.

The report claims low pay is endemic with most staff earning below the living wage of €12.30 an hour.

It says managers earn just €15.28 an hour, according to the latest Pobal report.

There is an annual staff turnover of 40pc on average in full day care services.

"The results of the survey highlight the escalating difficulties in providing childcare services to families," said CEO of the National Childhood Network, Denise McCormilla.

She said more than 70pc of the managers who responded found it extremely difficult to recruit staff over the last year.

Ms McCormilla said most indicated poor pay was the biggest obstacle. The second greatest obstacle to recruitment was stress and burnout.

"This recruitment crisis is having clear consequences, with 97pc of managers stating it will negatively impact on service provision," she said.

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She said if Budget 2022 does not increase investment in the sector specifically for salaries, then the consequences will be a significant collapse of service provision.

Some 63pc of managers said the impact of recruitment problems would be reduced quality for children.

According to 59pc of them, there would be difficulty in maintaining staff-to-child ratios, while 61pc said there would be reduced capacity.

A total of 34pc said it could mean closure.

Siptu head of organising Darragh O'Connor said many qualified and skilled educators cannot afford to stay in their profession.

He said 42pc of early years educators are actively looking for a job outside the sector with 75pc identifying low pay as the reason for leaving.

Mr O'Connor said a very concerning issue was that 80pc of them indicated they do not intend to work in the sector in 12 months' time.

Recognise

"The reality is most early years educators earn below the living wage of €12.30 per hour and are struggling to make ends meet," he said.

"The pandemic showed just how vital these frontline workers are, that is why we are calling on the Government to recognise their work and address the staffing crisis by investing in better pay in the upcoming budget."

The report was produced by the New Deal for Early Years coalition.

It includes the Association of Childhood Professionals, Siptu, National Childhood Network, PLÉ, CRANN Support Services, Men in Childcare, and the National Women's Council.

The coalition called on the Government to invest an extra €150m in childcare.

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