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Childcare providers say many will not reopen unless funding is increased

The Cabinet is to discuss proposals for reopening creches across the country on June 29.

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Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone at Government Buildings in Dublin announcing the forensic excavation of the site of a former mother and babyÕs home in Tuam in Co Galway.

Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone at Government Buildings in Dublin announcing the forensic excavation of the site of a former mother and babyÕs home in Tuam in Co Galway.

Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone at Government Buildings in Dublin announcing the forensic excavation of the site of a former mother and babyÕs home in Tuam in Co Galway.

Childcare providers have said many facilities will go out of business or choose not to reopen unless the Government agrees to increase funding to the sector.

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone is to bring proposals to Cabinet on Friday regarding re-opening creches across the country on June 29.

Schools and creches have been closed since March 12.

Early Childhood Ireland said the future of the childcare sector rests on the decisions of ministers later on Friday.

Earlier this month, the Government was forced to cancel a proposed childcare scheme for healthcare workers due to a lack of up-take from providers.

Seas Suas, a body representing private sector childcare providers, said many creches and childcare facilities will go out of business or choose not to reopen unless the Government agrees a package of financial support.

The chair of Seas Suas, Regina Bushell, said the Government’s response to the crisis “continues to fail to grasp the financial fundamentals that are at the core of the problem”.

“Two previous attempts have collapsed and unless there is a change in mindset, we will have a third collapse,” Ms Bushell said.

“This is a cashflow crisis, not a capital one. Safety concerns, while complex, can be addressed. But no amount of handwashing or PPE can change the fact that as little as one in five children will return.

“Despite having fewer children on premises, providers will still need to meet their fixed costs, such as rent and mortgage repayments, and in addition pay for new costs like PPE and daily additional deep cleans.”

Frances Byrne, director of policy with Early Childhood Ireland, said “the very future of the childcare sector is at stake, and the decisions made in today’s Cabinet meeting must take that into account.”

“We need realistic solutions from government, which support quality experiences for children, safety for staff and which take account of the long-term sustainability of a vital sector.

“It is also good that our members can access their settings ahead of the planned reopening on June 29. Our key overarching concern is the need for clarity on how the sector will be funded in the months and years to come.

“If public health advice dictates a reduction in capacity – either in operating hours or in the number of children that childcare services can accommodate – then a viable financial response must be developed by Government. Any changes to reduce capacity will create a funding gap that will severely compromise the long-term sustainability of our sector.”

PA