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Two-thirds of creches apply for State support for reopening

The Department of Children clarified incorrect information given to Leo Varadkar, who said 40% of providers may not return by Septmeber

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Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman (Niall Carson/PA)

Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman (Niall Carson/PA)

Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman (Niall Carson/PA)

The Department of Children has confirmed that two thirds of childcare providers have applied for capital grants to reopen their services in the autumn in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The department said it wanted to clarify incorrect information given to Tanaiste Leo Varadkar, who told the Dail on Thursday that 60% of childcare operators had indicated their intention to reopen.

The figure of 60% of childcare services reopening was provided by the Department of Children and represented the numbers of services that had, to date, as part of an ongoing process, indicated that they would reopen.

A spokesman for the department said the number was based on the number of services which had applied for a reopening capital grant by July 6.

As of close of business on Thursday, 2,977 services – or 66% of the national total of 4,500 – had applied for the grant, the spokesman said.

All childcare services which intend to reopen following the Covid closure can apply for this grant, whether they intend to reopen in the summer months or in September.

Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman told the Dail on Thursday evening that he met with childcare providers on Tuesday to address some of their concerns

He said: “All organisations indicated a very high level of reopening. They did however express concern that parental demand and level of child attendance had reduced but they hoped to see this return to a higher level by September.”

Mr Varadkar gave the incorrect information while responding in the Dail on Thursday to Aontu TD Peadar Toibin, who said claimed that 180 providers had closed their doors permanently since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Toibin said he was aware of seven childcare providers that 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.

PA