Cork South Central TD, Micheál Martin has said that urgent action is needed to avert a childcare crisis in Cork, and around the country, following changes to how teacher-child ratios are calculated in crèches and nurseries.
Deputy Martin was commenting after a meeting of childcare providers was organised in the city today where there was widespread concern that places would be lost and that some crèches may be forced to close
The Department of Children has informed childcare providers that Community Employment scheme workers, working and providing care in nurseries, will no longer be counted while calculating teacher-pupil ratios.
“This will have a devastating impact on the provision of childcare in Cork. The providers simply do not have the resources or the income to replace the CE workers with paid full time staff members.
“The net effect will be a reduction in the number of childcare places available in the city, and possibly the closure of some facilities.
“Longer term, we need to see all staff in nurseries with the qualifications needed to do the job.
“The Department of Children should, in effect, double the allowance paid to community childcare operators to ensure that they can maintain their services in disadvantaged areas, for early years provision (1-3 years) and for children with special educational needs.
“In addition, time needs to be given to childcare providers to help train and upskill their staff to meet the criteria.
“We cannot have a situation where parents who have children already in situ in crèches or nurseries are told they need to find alternative arrangement.
“Accessible, and affordable, childcare is essential to allowing new parents get back into the workforce.
“If the Minister is unwilling to provide additional funding derogations must be offered to community child care providers to allow them transition into the new criteria,” concluded Martin.