With more people slowly returning to work, "a cast iron guarantee" is needed that childcare for essential workers would return on June 29 as the Government "has promised".
This is the view of Labour Galway City West councillor, Niall McNelis, who said the Government needs to show "a real sense of urgency" on this issue, and produce a "clear and coherent plan" for the reopening of the childcare sector as a whole.
The matter was also raised recently in the Dáil by Labour TD Seán Sherlock, who asked if a childcare scheme for essential workers will be in place by June 29, when Phase 3 of the State's exit from lockdown begins. The concern around this issue stems from the lack of uptake for, and subsequent collapse of, the plan for frontline healthcare workers.
Cllr McNelis said any such plan must set out procedures for social distancing among very young children and creche staff. While he acknowledged the difficulties around this, he also warned that the issue is "a ‘ticking time bomb’ for those who are due back before crèches reopen".
The CSO has found that more women than men are caring for a dependent family member or friend because of the COVID-19 crisis. It also found that women are more likely to report childcare issues related to the pandemic.
"Parents, and women in particular," he said, "are being put under huge pressure on childcare," said Cllr McNelis, "and women are finding it more difficult to work from home because of family being around."