The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone has today (Friday 2nd February, 2018) announced that the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, Tusla – the Child and Family Agency and the INMO (representing Public Health Nurses) have reached an agreement at the Labour Court regarding the future recruitment of Early Years Inspectors within Tusla. Tusla is responsible for inspecting pre-schools, play groups, day nursery, crèches, day-care and similar services which cater for children aged 0-6 years.
To date, EY Inspector positions have required candidates to be registered as a Public Health Nurse and hold a QQI Level 9 qualification (Masters Level). Changes to the Early Years Care and Education sector in recent years and the increasing professionalisation of that workforce had led to calls for a broadening of eligibility to the post of Early Years Inspector. The recent Labour Court recommendation will allow various professions to apply for these posts, including for the first time graduates from Early Years Care and Education, as well as candidates with suitable qualifications in social care, social work, psychology and education. 20% of the childcare workforce now holds a degree.
Minister Zappone welcomed the Labour Court recommendation saying:-
“This development reflects the on-going professionalisation of the Early Years sector. The broadening of criteria for the recruitment of Inspectors will complement and strengthen the great work that Tusla’s Early Years Inspectorate has been progressing in recent years. The last 18 months has seen massive steps forward in our goal to transform childcare in Ireland. I welcome the recommendation of the Labour Court and recognise that it marks another milestone in the professionalisation of the sector and the development of high quality, accessible services for children and families.”
Minister Zappone secured an increase of 7% in capitation to providers of the free pre-school scheme or ECCE in the recent budget, which commences this September. Further increases are available for services that complete training as part of the Minister’s initiative to make childcare services more accessible to children with disabilities (AIM). An Independent Review into the Cost of Delivery of Quality Childcare is currently underway by Crowe Howarth.