Childcare providers frustrated by government “flip flopping” on wage support

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A Galway TD has said that childcare providers are losing faith in the government over delays to its COVID-19 Wage Support Childcare Scheme.

The scheme for childcare providers was announced last week to run in conjunction with Revenue’s Wage Support Scheme.

Along with income supports it would see the Department pay providers a ‘retention top up’  which is meant to retain staff in the sector during the period of closure caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the Department announced late on Friday that the scheme has now been pushed back until a later date as it is not yet ready to launch, according to the Fianna Fáil TD.

“Providers that had decided to sign up to the scheme had started paying staff out of their own pocket thinking this would be refunded soon, but this now seems unlikely,” Deputy Rabbitte commented.

The Fianna Fáil TD said that it’s understandable that a lot of work is being done on the fly right now, but that a lack of inter-departmental communication is causing confusion.

She said that this place to assist childcare providers should not have been unveiled before all the kinks were ironed out.

“Staff are now confused as to what their entitlements are, how much they’re going to be paid and whether the base rate of €350 per week still applies.

“Parents, meanwhile, are unsure if they’re meant to pay fees,” Anne Rabbitte said.

“With such mixed messaging, nobody knows who to believe. We need clarity and we need it fast.”

This has damaged the sector by eroding the “credibility and confidence” that businesses had in the government due to what they feel is a lack of planning, she added.

“If this drags on for much longer, providers will be left with no choice but to let staff go as this flip-flopping is creating further instability for providers and staff.”

“My concern would be that we’re going to see providers flee the sector and créches will close.”

“This could create a woeful mess, which could take months, and maybe even years to clean up,” concluded Deputy Rabbitte.