Childcare providers are warning that the decision shut crèches over the COVID-19 outbreak could force some out of business.
In a statement, Early Childhood Ireland said it fully supports the measures introduced this morning but warned that struggling providers may not be able to cope with the long-term impact.
The Department of Children and Youth Affairs this evening confirmed that it would continue to pay subsidies to childcare providers while they are closed.
We will continue to pay subsidies to childcare providers under all programmes (ECCE, NCS, CCS, and TEC) while they are closed.
— Department of Children and Youth Affairs (@DCYAPress) March 12, 2020
However, ECI said it was now working with the Government to ensure the supports continue if the closures are extended.
Frances Byrne, Director of Policy and Advocacy at Early Childhood Ireland said providers were already facing huge economic pressures.
“We have been inundated by calls from our members who 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,” she said.
“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 29th 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.”
Meanwhile, Labour spokesperson on children and youth affairs Sean Sherlock called on the government to provide childcare staff with certainty over their wages.
“The Department provides significant funding to the sector and I understand this income stream will continue in the weeks ahead despite children not being in care, but we need assurances that if it is paid, that staff will also continue to be paid their wages.
“In the difficult situation which should be a last case scenario where staff may have to be laid off for a period I also would call on the Department to ensure they get access to income support payments immediately at the increased illness benefit rate.”
Crèches are expected to remain closed until March 29th at the earliest.