Changes in a community employment scheme may have major implications for staffing levels in community crèches and could result in the closure of some facilities.
The new regulations, which were introduced in January, result in changes in the way adult:child ratios are calculated, and no longer include Community Employment Scheme workers.
This means that community crèches are facing a choice between taking on more staff or reducing the number of places they offer, according to Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children and Youth Affairs Anne Rabbitte.
The Galway East TD, who was a member of Galway County Council for seven years, says there were 1,816 community employment workers employed in community childcare settings in 2016.
“This highlights the huge reliance on CE workers within the community childcare sector, and as a result, the changes brought in last month will have serious ramifications for community crèches.”
The Portumna TD outlines that she and her parliamentary colleagues met community crèche managers who insist the situation is “completely unsustainable”.
“They have repeatedly told the Minister for Social Protection that if they don’t receive additional funding, they will be forced to charge increased fees to avoid closure.”
She says her party acknowledges the need for quality childcare. “We understand that the Community Employment scheme was always intended as something to supplement, rather than replace, the existing workforce. That is not the issue here, however.
“As a result of the Government’s failure to increase capitation rates, many community childcare facilities are reliant on CE workers to ensure they remain sustainable. The current model is not a viable long term option and I am calling on Minister Varadkar to close this funding gap, before community crèches are forced to close.”