The Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O’Gorman T.D. has published the Annual Early Years Sector Profile Report 2019/2020.

This annual report – the eighteenth in the series – provides a detailed overview of the Early Learning and Care (ELC) and School-Age Childcare (SAC) sector in Ireland, including the  numbers of children in receipt of state subsidies, information on ELC and SAC fees, staff wages, qualifications and turnover.

The report, which plays a central role in informing policy development and in assessing the impact of policy change, is based on a survey of ELC and SAC providers in Ireland and administrative data from Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY) schemes. The report is produced by Pobal on behalf of the DCEDIY.

The Annual Early Years Sector Profile report is based on information collected at the end of June 2020 during an unusual and challenging period, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, when ELC and SAC providers were preparing to reopen. Despite the difficult circumstances almost 3,000 providers completed the survey, demonstrating their commitment to provide evidence for policy-making.  

Speaking on the report Minister O’Gorman thanked all the Early Learning and Care and School-Age Childcare providers who participated in the survey and reflected on some of the key findings and said:

“I am very pleased to publish the 2019/20 Annual Early Years Sector Profile Report. 

Undoubtedly, 2020 marked one of the most difficult years we have collectively faced and I recognise and applaud the leadership shown by services and staff in the context of Covid-19, putting children and their families and the heart of their work.

Notwithstanding the impact of Covid-19, I am struck by the positive developments across the sector and through the data evidenced in this report.

This report reveals another year-on-year increase in the number of children with additional needs receiving support under the Access and Inclusion model.  The continued progress towards a highly qualified workforce is also very positive, with a significant increase in the number of staff qualified to level 7 or higher.

High-quality research and data are essential to developing the early learning and care system, and the data in this report will inform a range of significant policy initiatives underway to continue to develop and strengthen the sector.

I offer my thanks again to all of those who took the time to participate”.

Anna Shakespeare, Pobal CEO added:

“For the past 18 years Pobal has been collecting important information about the Early Learning and Care and School Aged Childcare sector in Ireland through the Annual Early Years Service Profile. I welcome the publication of 2019/2020 report knowing that the information and analysis included in this report will be used to plan for accessible and quality early learning and care to all children in Ireland. Over the past year, this information has become even more important in helping the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth to plan the response to the COVID-19 emergency and deliver measures to mitigate its impact on the sector. Pobal has been very proud to be able to work with DCEDIY on this.”

The Annual Early Years Sector Profile 2019/2020 is available to read in full here.

Some of the key findings at-a-glance from this year’s survey include:

– During the 2019/2020 programme year, a total of 180,149 children were supported under at least one Government subsidy programme.  A total of  53,513 children from 42,557 households received subsidies under the National Childcare Scheme, which launched on 20th November 2019.

– A total of 2,428 Early Learning and Care and School Aged Childcare services and 5,708 children with additional needs were supported under the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM). The number of services receiving support under AIM as well as the number of children receiving targeted supports has increased on the previous year, by 1.7% and 3.5% respectively.

– Fees have increased across all types of provision, but this rate of increase has been less than in previous years, at less than 1% across all types of provision. In 2019/2020, an average weekly fee for full time care was €186.12.

– It is estimated that 30,883 staff work in the sector, 85% of whom worked directly with children.

– Wages of staff working in the ELC and SAC sector have increased year-on-year; however, the pace of growth is slow. The average hourly wage of childcare staff (excluding managers) in 2019/20 was €12.45, 4% higher than in 2018/2019.

– The level of staff qualifications has continued to grow steadily over the last few years, with 27% of staff working directly with children now holding a qualification at NFQ Level 7 or higher.

– The staff turnover in the sector decreased for two years in a row and in 2019/20 was 18%, down 7% from two years ago.

ENDS