Government plan is ‘’utterly inadequate’’ say childcare sector

The Federation of Early Childcare Providers has lambasted the Government’s supports for reopening the childcare sector as ‘’utterly inadequate,’’ and says they do not go far enough to save struggling crèches from going bust.

Due to the low numbers of children returning to childcare facilities, childcare providers will be operating at a huge loss, even when the wage subsidy scheme is taken into account.

Commenting on the Department of Children’s plan, Chairperson of the Federation Elaine Dunne said; ‘’we have closely examined the proposals laid out by the Department today and they fall well below what is needed to prevent the entire sector from going bust. When we reopen at the end of the month, we expect to have less than 40% of children returning to their crèche. This means we have lost over 60% of our income. When you add up all of the support the Government have announced today, including the Wage Subsidy Scheme, we will still be running at a huge loss.’’

Elaine went on to say; ‘’on top of this black hole in our cash flow, the Government will be expecting us to spend a huge amount of money transforming and modifying our facilities to be able to deal with Covid-19. I believe that unless things change we will be looking at hundreds of crèches going bust right across the country.’’

Other problems highlighted by the Federation include the Wage Subsidy Scheme, which will not be available to newly hired staff. There are also grave concerns about services for special needs children, as the ECCE and AIM schemes have now finished and there will be no funding for one-to-one support.

PPE was also a major concern of the Federation. Commenting on this, Elaine said; ‘’there is no support announced today for the purchase or use of PPE for staff. I know many staff in the sector are too afraid to return to work unless PPE is provided for them. It will also lead parents to believe sending their child back to the crèche isn’t safe, therefore putting even more financial pressure on providers.’’

Elaine concluded by saying; ‘’the Government today announced a €75 million package of supports, but it is estimated that around €90 million of supports were cancelled or lost since March. I would urgently call on the Government to review their approach, as it will put many childcare providers out of business.’’