“Our crèches are burning, and the President of the Republic is looking elsewhere”

NOTe elected officials in charge of early childhood throughout France, we urge the President of the Republic to finally take the necessary measures to ensure that the early childhood sector, so essential to our society, is not allowed to die.

Early childhood is decisive for the future of individuals and families. Early childhood care structures are decisive in the fight against inequalities that strike from birth, as much as they are decisive for gender equality. They are decisive for the professional integration of both parents. They are also decisive for our economy.

Early childhood is, moreover, the best investment that a State can make. This was demonstrated by the Nobel Prize in Economics (2000) James Heckman: 1 euro invested in early childhood ultimately brings in 7.50 euros to society.

A real shock of attractiveness

However, our crèches, everywhere in France, are slowly dying due to the shortage of qualified professional recruitment. The teams are exhausted. Sick leave and unreplaced absences are legion. The use of temporary workers is not even enough. We deplore thousands of frozen cradles, reductions in working hours putting families in great difficulty for their professional activities all over the country.

Read the column: Article reserved for our subscribers “We, those responsible for crèches, favor the child, and our employers the lucrative aspect”

Our crèches are burning, and the president is looking elsewhere. The public early childhood service that he wishes to implement is thus experienced in all nurseries in France as a sweet utopia.

How can we imagine creating tens or even hundreds of thousands of new reception places, even though we do not have the means to keep our existing cradles open? The reality in our crèches today is far too harsh to be able to envisage it. This reality was clearly attested to in the recent report of the General Inspectorate of Social Affairs (IGAS) commissioned by the government (“Quality of reception and prevention of mistreatment in crèches”, IGAS, March 2023) .

The solutions will obviously not come by deregulating these professions, by reducing training times or by allowing unqualified profiles for these professions.

On the contrary, it is a real shock of attractiveness that must be triggered now.

Need for significant resources

Bring early childhood out of the indifference in which it has been trapped for so many years to finally make it a national priority by giving it the means to overcome the recruitment crisis it is undergoing: sharp increase in salaries, creation of dozens thousands of training places, but also the premises and teaching posts necessary for them, tightening of staffing rates, plan for the prevention of professional attrition and career development, recognition and training plan for the individual care professions, short, medium and long-term promotion of all these professions with the general public and young people in particular, overhaul of maternity and parental leave to allow parents to look after their child for the first twelve months, etc. All of this requires significant resources that will ultimately benefit our country 7.5 times more than what it will have cost.

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