Almost 40% of creches or childcare settings may not reopen in September, the Tanaiste has said.
Leo Varadkar told the Dail that the Government wants to ensure the sector is “fully up and running” by the autumn to meet demand but cautioned that not all childcare services will return.
“60% of the existing services have indicated they will be reopening by September and this portion may rise,” he said.
He was responding to Aontu TD Peadar Toibin who said he has information that 180 childcare providers have closed due to the lack of supports.
He said he was told on Thursday morning that seven childcare providers have closed in Dublin in the past 24 hours and added the sector is “dying on its feet”.
He said: “As many as 10% of childcare providers have shut down already due to the lack of support.
“And the closures are accelerating.
“In the last week alone it has been reported to me that 55 childcare providers have closed.”
“The Federation of Early Childcare Providers have told me that they have set up a mental health team to deal with the level of trauma and upset that has been caused to the members by the Department of Children and the Minister.
“The childcare sector which is charged with the care and development of the next generation of Irish people is chaos as we speak.
“The sector has been under phenomenal pressure for the last number of years with tens of thousands having to take to the streets.”
“However shockingly according to information that I have received from the sector itself, 180 providers have closed since the start of the pandemic.”
Mr Toibin urged Mr Varadkar to intervene urgently with regard to childcare supports to avoid more closures.
Mr Varadkar said 1,000 childcare services have returned since they were allowed to reopen on June 29 and have registered some 11,876 children.
He said there have been 717 applications for a re-opening support payments to help with associated costs of reopening childcare settings safely.