Thursday, 12 March 2020
ECI warns that further Covid-19 closures could risk sustainability of the childcare sector
Following a series of recent pressures on childcare providers, Early Childhood Ireland, the membership organisation for the early years sector, is warning the government that crèches may be forced out of business by health and safety procedures introduced due to Covid-19 by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD today (12.03.2020).
The measures, which will see the closure of schools, pre-schools and further and higher education settings between Friday 13 and Monday 30 March, 2020, are in line with the advice of the National Public Health Emergency Team. However, Frances Byrne, Director of Policy and Advocacy at Early Childhood Ireland, has raised concerns that the planned closures will create severe sustainability challenges for the sector.
Commenting on the announcement, Ms. Byrne said: “There is no doubt that these health and safety measures are essential to curb the spread of Covid-19 but even in the midst of the crisis, we cannot ignore the potential long-term impact that this could have on childcare providers who have already faced a myriad of business pressures in recent months.”
“We’ve been inundated by calls from our members who are concerned by what this closure will mean, not just for the 200,000 babies and children in their care, and their families, but also for the 30,000 staff working in the sector who are worried about their jobs.
“We’re delighted that the Department of Children and Youth Affairs has confirmed today that public funding for the sector will continue during this planned closure and we’re working closely with the Department to ensure that should this closure extend beyond the 29 of March, childcare providers will still be in a position to open their doors to support the hundreds of thousands of parents participating in the economy.”
Early Childhood Ireland, which has been appointed to the national stakeholder group on Covid-19 recently established by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, estimates that almost a quarter of million children, parents and sector staff have been impacted by the immediate closure of childcare services.
Ms. Byrne added: “We’ll continue to keep our members updated on developments over the coming weeks and to share their concerns with the government to ensure that the vital service of early years care is valued equally with the rest of the care and education system during this crisis.”