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Press release, 18/02/2011: Investment in early care and education saves money.

Investment in early care and education saves money.
New government has the opportunity to provide children with the best start.

17th February 2011

Start Strong, a coalition of organisations and individuals campaigning for children’s early care and education, is urging the next government to develop a national plan for the care and education of young children.

Start Strong Director Ciairín de Buis said “Putting money into early care and education should be an essential part of Ireland’s recovery and the sustainable economy of the future.

“The European Commission today published “Early Childhood Education and Care: Providing all our children with the best start for the world of tomorrow”. The title says it all.

“Investing in quality early care and education gives children a strong start in life. It’s one of the best investments we can make for our young children and our future. It helps break the cycle of poverty and in the long-term means lowers costs to the tax-payer. It is much more effective than intervening later. It actually saves money in the long-run. And we’re not the alone in saying this, the European Commission when launching their report today said pretty much the same thing.”

Ms. de Buis said that “the next government has the chance to really make a difference to young children and their future.

“The first thing that they need to do is to commit to develop and implement a national plan for the care and education of young children. Parties can make that commitment now, before the general election.

“Unlike most OECD countries, Ireland has no comprehensive national plan for early childhood education and care. In a UNICEF League Table published in 2008, Ireland comes bottom of the list amongst 25 economically advanced countries, meeting just one of ten minimum standards. The existence of a national plan is one of the benchmarks used by UNICEF.

“Start Strong recently published Children 2020: Planning Now, for the Future which sets out what children’s early care and education in Ireland could be in 10-years’ time. The first step towards that is that the next government commits to develop and implement a long-term plan.”

Notes to the Editor:
Start Strong is a coalition of organisations and individuals seeking to advance children’s early care and education in Ireland.

Children 2020: Planning Now, for the Future is available at www.startstrong.ie
In it, Start Strong sets out 5 key principles for a 10 year plan and proposes both short-term recommendations that the Government could introduce now at little or no cost and more long-term ambitious recommendations.
Immediate recommendations include the development of a national plan, ensuring that government funding only goes to quality services, and publishing inspection reports on early care and education settings.
Start Strong have engaged Goodbody Economic Consultants to complete financial costings of their proposals and engage in a cost-benefit analysis exercise. This work is currently being completed.

International evidence shows that investment in early childhood intervention can have a return of over 16:1.

European Commission: Communication [COM(2011)66] "Early childhood education and care: providing all our children with the best start for the world of tomorrow" was launched on 17th February by European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Androulla Vassiliou.
The Commission advocates universal services both as the most effective means of helping disadvantaged children and because all young children benefit from high quality care and education.

Start Strong is supported by the Katharine Howard Foundation, Irish Youth Foundation and The Atlantic Philanthropies