A Carlow Kilkenny TD says there is a serious staffing issue for early childhood care in Ireland.
Kalthleen Funchion says that the pandemic has exaggerated the shortage of staff in the sector.
According to Early Childhood Ireland, the national average pay in the sector is 11 euro 70 cent per hour, 1 euro 20 cent less than the average living wage.
Speaking in the Dáil, the Sinn Fein Deputy says the state should pay for their wages in the long term;
"I would argue that there's been a serious issue for the last number of years around staffing and retaining staff and we all know we've had that discussion before, it does come down to the pay and the working conditions.
You have very qualified people training up to degree level and to get poor rates of pay. You say the state is not the employer but of course I wish they were, I would like to see that happen."
Funchion believes it's these conditions that are turning people away from the sector and causing them to leave despite qualifying to enter it.
"Covid has put a huge amount of extra pressures on them. There was a recent announcement about SNA's being recruited for schools and certainly a number of people have contacted myself, and I'm sure they've contacted others that they're now seeing staff go for SNA roles and leave the sector.
That is leaving the childcare providers in a really, really difficult situation so we definitely need to address some short term and long term measures in relation to staffing."