Building the future Europe: early childhood education and care workers must be recognised


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(14 February 2024) EPSU highlights the importance of quality early childhood education and care and the chronic staffing issues facing the sector in a new article for Social Europe.

Every child in the European Union (EU) has the right to affordable and high-quality early childhood education and care, as outlined in the European Pillar of Social Rights and the EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child and the European Child Guarantee

Moreover, OECD Studies consistently highlight the critical importance of quality Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) in shaping future success and well-being, indicating that children who experience high-quality early education programs are more likely to develop strong cognitive, social, and emotional foundations, providing a springboard for lifelong learning.

European trade unions argue that addressing this crisis necessitates comprehensive strategies including:

  • Better Pay
  • Improved working conditions
  • Increased recruitment and focus on retention
  • Support for continuous professional development and lifelong learning
  • Raised profile and Professional appreciation

To address the challenges faced by the sector, the evidence underscores that investment in comprehensive strategies are needed and greater societal recognition of the critical role played by ECEC staff in shaping the future.

EPSU is therefore concerned about the proposals to review the Economic governance rules of the Council. These could result in annual cuts in public spending of up to 100 bn Euros. This will be at the expense of public services including quality publicly funded ECEC. This is despite the fact that we know austerity is not the answer. Public ECEC reduces educational disparities, promoting equal opportunities from the start and by supporting working parents, it helps to improve work – life balance.

Long term investment in early childhood education and care is not only a service to young children and their families but also an efficient and effective strategic societal investment.

Read the full article in SocialEurope here.