Call for funding extension to maintain safe play pods in childcare

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Galway Daily news Budget 2022: Childcare providers say not enough done to address costs

Childhood Services Ireland has called for an extension to funding which has supported play pods in childcare services.

The association says that the play pod system has been extremely effective in managing COVID-19 by limiting interactions between children and their families as well as staff.

To date, the increase in staffing costs from the scheme has been supported by the Government.

But the Director of Childhood Services Ireland, Darragh Whelan said that a firm commitment is needed to extend support for the scheme until the end of the year.

“This is about providing certainty to parents, providers and those working in early years services,” said Mr Whelan.

“Childcare provision is a year-round service, however we need certainty to avoid staff shortages at crunch times like return to school in September.

“A December extension will also provide essential assurances and stability for providers to plan their staffing needs for the upcoming academic year which will facilitate a smooth reopening of the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme in September without any unnecessary uncertainty faced by staff and providers which would result in a shortage of places for parents seeking childcare.”

Darragh Whelan added that play pods require more childcare professionals in each setting and therefore greater costs.

“It has been very important that this cost is not passed onto parents. The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme, the Sustainability Fund, and Covid 19 Standard Operating Payment have ensured that services have remained sustainable over the last year and childcare workers have been retained in employment,” he said.

“Those working in early years provision have worked very well with Government to roll out this hugely important measure without increasing costs to parents for the provision of childcare.

“We need this positive arrangement to continue and that is a signal we need now. It allows providers plan for the coming months from a staffing capacity and provides huge comfort to parents that their children will continue to benefit from a very successful, worthwhile and effective provision.”