The introduction of “stringent regulations” on after school services without any proper consultation with parents or service providers has been called “shocking” and “astounding” by a Galway East TD.
This is the view of Fianna Fáil spokesperson on children and youth affairs, Anne Rabbitte, who has criticised what she called, “the rushed manner” in which the Minister for Children, Catherine Zappone, has introduced “new restrictions on after school services”. The new regulations must be implemented by the summer.
According to Dep Rabbitte, many such childcare services for school goers take place in national schools, allowing children to do their homework or chat with friends. Some schools offer breakfast clubs before school to facilitate parents who need to leave for work early in the morning. However, the new regulations require new staff ratios which are “essentially double what most providers are operating at”.
Dep Rabbitte says this will have a serious impact on the cost base of services and could result in operators “leaving the sector”. She added: “These services are vital for working parents, who want to see their children cared for in a safe and happy environment. Does the Minister have so little respect for the industry that she does not think it is worth her time to seek their views? I am calling on the Minister to re-assess the situation, sit down with service providers, and establish a proper lead-in time.”