With Ireland’s lockdown restrictions up for review on January 31st, the representative body for independent early years’ service providers, Seas Suas, has called on the Government to provide clarity and take an immediate decision on the reopening of childcare.
It labelled Government's current approach as 'short termism'.
Seas Suas suggest that decision makers should utilise data and predictive modelling to establish the likely scenario with regard Covid-19 on January 31st.
This would help to 'inform decision making now' and 'avoid waiting for the last minute to take decisions'.
Seaus Suas said providers require time to plan and parents need time to make alternative childcare arrangements, if necessary.
In a letter to the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman last night, Seas Suas has sought a response to three core and fundamental questions by this Friday, January 22nd, including:
- Reopening: Clarity on the plan for childcare post January 31st — will the childcare sector reopen for all children or continue to provide education and care for the children of essential and frontline workers only?
- Public Health Criteria: What public health criteria must apply and in what scenario (in terms of Covid-19 case numbers) will childcare settings be permitted to reopen for all?
- Funding: If the sector is not reopened for all children on January 31st, can the Department for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (Dcediy), and the Department of Finance, provide detail of what funding measures will be in place from February to support providers who are operating at reduced capacity and occupancy for the children of essential and frontline workers only. Seas Suas has also issued correspondence to the Minister for Finance seeking clarity and to request his Department’s involvement in planning for the longer-term sustainability of childcare.
The plea from childcare providers comes after the Government shelved plans to reopen special education schools on Thursday after the plan was rejected by the Irish National Teachers' Organisation and Fórsa.