The head of the Federation of Early Childhood Providers says there has been no meaningful consultation with them on re-opening their services.

It comes as a majority of childcare providers say they will not re-open on June 29th, when the Government intends to start a phased resumption.

The survey by the Federation of Early Childhood Providers shows the majority of providers have made the decision not to open in phase three.

Some 609 providers took part in the survey – which found 60% would definitely not be re-opening, 28% were unsure, with just 12% saying that they would open.

In addition, 61% of providers said that none of their staff were currently agreeing to return to work on June 29th – citing various reasons.

And 98.5% of respondents also expressed that a ‘lack of clear guidance’ from the Department of Children as increasing their anxiety on the future of their service.

Elaine Dunne is chair of the Federation of Early Childhood Providers.

She told Newstalk Breakfast there has been “no guidance whatsoever” on proposals.

The reluctance is because there’s no meaningful consultation with the providers at all on the ground, and nobody is listening.

“There’s a group sitting around a table with the minister at the moment in the Government, and within that group you’ve got six people that are talking on behalf of providers.

“But they’re bound by confidentiality, so they can’t come back out and tell providers exactly what’s going on at that table.

“The federation is being blocked from that table for whatever reason – we still are waiting on that reason”.

“Without having amenable consultation with providers on the ground, it’s just not going to work.”

She said her providers do want to get back into business “when it’s a safe environment for the children and the staff to come back into.”

She said they have received “no guidance whatsoever from anyone”, despite the fact that they are due to be re-opening in a few weeks.

“You’ve got three and a half weeks to get everything ready – we’ve no money to do it, so we have to make changes to services.

“There’s no money, nobody’s giving us any funding – we have said and we have been screaming from the rooftops about sustainability well before even the COVID hit Ireland.”

“We need funding, we need proper guidelines, how long are we going to wait for guidelines?

“If you look at the frontline scheme that they were trying to run, they failed to prepare for that and it didn’t work.”

“How long is going take for the guidelines if there’s no consultation with the providers on the ground?

“If the group are bound by confidentiality, how are we supposed to know what’s going on – are we just going to be landed with a whole load of guidelines without consultation on them?”

On her own services, Ms Dunne said: “Out of 98 parents, I’ve had eight parents saying yes, they will put their children in on the 29th of June

“How can I open up for those parents? It’s just unsustainable for me to open my doors to have to take on all of my bills – so there’s no sustainability”.

Source: News Talk

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