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75 million euro package to help reopen childcare sector at end of June

Creches and other facilities are set to reopen their doors from June 29 .

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Minister for Children Katherine Zappone (Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA)

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone (Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA)

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone (Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA)

A package worth 75 million euro to help reopen the childcare sector at the end of June has been announced by Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone.

Creches and other facilities are set to reopen their doors on June 29, having closed in March.

The scheme will see a one-off reopening grant of 18 million euro for centre-based providers with operational costs and additional staffing costs.

It will also help to fund training for staff on guidelines for reopening, additional learning resources, and to buy hygiene and cleaning products.

The amount of the grant for each individual provider will be based on the number of children on Department of Children and Youth Affairs schemes in the service before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Services which open on June 29, or within a week of that date, and who are open for six of the eight weeks until August 23, will also be eligible to receive a higher grant than services which reopen in late August or September.

The department says this is because a reduced number of children are likely to attend services in the initial weeks of reopening.

In addition, a one-off capital grant of 14 million euro will be used to help facilities adhere to guidelines, with funding allocated based on the number of children attending.

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(PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics)

Press Association Images

(PA Graphics)

This grant can be used to improve hygiene facilities and outdoor play areas.

Labour Party TD Sean Sherlock said Wednesday’s announcement brings some certainty, but other issues are likely to arise in the weeks ahead as more parents return to work.

“As the reopening of the economy has proceeded, we’ve seen that women in particular have been bearing the brunt of the additional childcare duties that have been placed on families.

“With retailers reopening this week, many families were left in a situation where workers had to return to employment without childcare facilities.

“Parents and providers have been seeking certainty on what funding and fee structure will be in place in creches and other childcare settings when they start to reopen at the end of June.

“Concerns had been growing due to the delay in the announcement.

“The big problem had been the additional costs that providers would have to incur, and whether these would be passed on to parents.”

PA