Galway TD Anne Rabbitte has warned of an imminent capacity crisis that could potentially effect the childcare sector as the year progresses and the country gradually reopens.
Speaking before the Dáil the Fianna Fáil spokesperson for Children and Youth Affairs addressed the challenges faced by childcare businesses like créches and Montessori’s as the country reopens following the lifting of restrictions.
Deputy Rabbitte described how the childcare sector was experiencing “dire capacity constraints pre-Covid”.
She warned how these issues will be exacerbated as créches reopen to all workers from July 20th.
The Galway East TD called for clarity regarding how créches will be effected as a result of the government’s road map.
Currently, under the government’s plans créches will initially open for children of all workers on a gradually increasing phased basis (one day per week) and slowly increasing thereafter.
Deputy Rabbitte questioned what parents would do for the remainder of the week if they are back in their workplaces.
In addition, she highlighted her concern at the possibility of créches reducing capacity to facilitate social distancing.
This would result in countless parents being left without a space in their créche.
“For example, you could have a créche who normally has space for 100 children, but that’s now reduced to 50 due to social distancing”.
The Galway TD questioned how the wage support scheme would work if créches could not open fully.
“For such services who reopen with a reduced capacity, will the Department continue to pay for their pre-Covid capacity or the new, reduced capacity,” Anne Rabbitte said.
This may result in a situation where créches will be receiving substantially less income resulting in various créches being in a financially unfeasible position.
All of this may give rise to the closures of a number of créches throughout Galway.
Deputy Rabbitte called for transparency regarding the advice that is currently being given by the Department and NPHET’s.
“Transparency is key and providers, staff and parents need to know what plans the Department of Children and Youth Affairs have”.
She concluded by requesting the government to provide appropriate supports to prevent more services closing.