87 percent of Irish adults believe childminders should be Garda vetted and have basic First Aid and other training, the Early Childhood Ireland Childcare Barometer 2019 has shown. The proposal carried extensive support across all demographics surveyed for the second edition of the annual poll, results of which were published today.
The Childcare Barometer 2019 also shows a significant increase in public support for parents only paying towards childcare in line with their overall income. 64 percent of Irish adults strongly agreed with this proposal; an increase of 7 percent from the first annual Childcare Barometer, conducted in 2018.
Reflecting on 2018 results, 70 percent of those polled strongly agreed that parents should be financially supported to stay at home with their child for the first twelve months of the child’s life. 74 percent felt that the education of children under five was just as important as the education of children over five.
Among the new questions put to respondents for this year’s poll was whether parental benefit should be paid at the EU Commission’s recommended rate of 66 percent of weekly earnings, rather than the current rate of benefit (amounting to €240 per week). This proposal carried notable support, with 59 percent of Irish adults strongly agreeing that parental benefit should be paid at the EU-recommended rate.
The Barometer also shows that two-thirds of Irish adults agree that childcare staff, who, under EU guidelines, a significant percentage must hold a graduate qualification by 2022, should have this status reflected in the terms and conditions of their employment contract.
Frances Byrne, Director of Policy and Advocacy with Early Childhood Ireland, commented, "The results of the second annual Early Childhood Ireland Childcare Barometer once again show widespread public support for a progressive childcare system in Ireland. It is particularly noteworthy to see such extensive levels of support for extending regulations around Garda vetting and First Aid training to childminders."
"Childminders are one of a diverse range of childcare options relied upon by Irish families. That 87% of Irish adults are in favour of Garda vetting and basic training requirements for the sector is testament to the importance of this option for families and shows a clear desire to ensure regulations and supports are extended to all paid childminders – as is envisaged in Government’s First 5 national early years strategy."
Ms. Byrne continued, "The increase in support for parents only paying for childcare in line with their income is very notable. This follows the introduction of the Affordable Childcare Scheme subsidies for families just over a year ago and reflects a broadened awareness of the benefits for children of quality, accessible early years care."
She concluded, "The Early Childhood Ireland Childcare Barometer was instituted in 2018 to gauge public support for a more progressive childcare and early years system in Ireland. This second edition shows that Irish adults are strongly in favour of continued and enhanced investment in the sector. It shows that we, as a nation, recognise the fundamental importance of the early years as well as the professionalism of the people who deliver this vital service for families.
"As we look ahead to the implementation of the First 5 strategy, the Barometer represents a vital mandate for Government to continue to robustly invest in and deliver further supports for the sector and families."