The government is being called on to support the childcare workers who are out of jobs due to the Covid-19 Coronavirus outbreak, or else risk a mass exodus from the country.
Childcare facilities such as creches were among the first hit by measures to limit the spread of Covid-19, ordered to shut by the government along with schools and universities to limit the risk that children will carry the virus to more vulnerable people.
However, while the state continues to pay the wages of teachers and other school staff, who a public sector workers, the majority of creches in the country are privately owned.
Galway East TD Anne Rabbitte says that thousands of people employed in the sector are facing a “stark situation”, and that unless the government helps them, many could simply pick up sticks and leave Ireland in the coming months.
Deputy Rabbitte cautioned that “The reality is childcare facilities and childcare workers are facing big decisions.”
“A number of our childcare workers are from abroad and they may consider returning home to their EU countries if they become unemployed for the foreseeable future.”
“We cannot allow this situation to develop for the future of the sector,” Anne Rabbitte said.
The Fianna Fáil TD suggested that the government should consider retaining people out of work in the sector during this time, saying that though this could cost €12 million a month, it would prevent a crisis when normalcy returns.
The €12 million shortfall facing some 4,500 creches around the country comes from a potential drop off in payments from parents if restrictions are extended beyond March 29,
The potential for workers in the sector from outside the State to leave was a significant concern raised at a recent stakeholders meeting at the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.
The HSE and healthcare workers unions have also been urging the government to implement emergency childcare solutions for healthcare workers with children in order to enable them to go to work.
Fears have been expressed in recent days that with schools closed and children at home, some workers in the healthcare sector may be put in a position where they simply can’t go into work.