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Parents will not have to pay for childcare they are not receiving during Covid-19 crisis, says Taoiseach

The government is to pay a proportion of childcare staff costs during the closure period.

Image: Shutterstock/Sharomka

NEW EMERGENCY COVID-19 measures mean that parents will not have to pay their provider for childcare they are not receiving.

Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone has confirmed the Department of Children and Youth Affairs is to pay childcare providers with a proportion of staff costs during the closure period during the coronavirus crisis.

This is on the condition that providers do not charge parents for a service they cannot provide.

Following the announcement of emergency measures which included movement restrictions and the closure of businesses, there had been reports that some creches were continuing to charge parents despite not providing any childcare service. 

There were also reports from parents that they were informed if they did not keep up with the payments, their child’s place could not be guaranteed after the public health crisis is over. 

Giving further details on the new emergency measures, the minister said they will apply for up to 12 weeks in line with the Government’s announcement yesterday and “reflect the unique challenges and demands facing the sector”. 

As part of the new initiative, Revenue will reimburse childcare employers by 70% of their pre-Covid-19 staff costs.

In addition, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs will reimburse childcare employers with 30% of their pre-Covid-19 staff costs.

The department will also pay a retention top-up designed to retain staff in the sector. 

In order to avail of the supports, childcare providers will be required to sign a new Covid-19 Emergency Agreement.

This will require providers to agree to a number of conditions, including:

  • Not charging parents for childcare fees from this month onwards
  • Assure parents that their children’s places are as secure as they can be post Covid-19
  • Agree to ensure staff are paid at pre-Covid-19 levels, with the benefit of the funding from Revenue and DCYA
  • Take active steps to reinstate their staff that have already been laid off on the same terms as above (with staff reinstated on pre-Covid terms and conditions).

Staff will also have to use this time for Continuous Professional Development (CPD) and other professional activities, while employers will use this time to catch up on administrative tasks and familiarise themselves further with the National Childcare Scheme (NCS). 

The childcare providers will also have to provide Revenue with evidence of staff costs to so the payments can be provided. 

Zappone said she hopes the new supports will provide parents with a reassurance that they are not required to pay childcare fees during this Covid crisis, while providing them with reassurance that they will maintain their childcare places. 

It is understood the package of measures was argued for by Zappone who took issue with the financial package being discussed at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting. 

Zappone stressed that these are emergency measures that will apply for up to 12 weeks, something that was reiterated by the Taoiseach today. 

“Most parents would acknowledge if they receive a service such as childcare that they should make a contribution towards that,” she said, signalling that parents will have to revert to paying large amounts of money for childcare after the Covid-19 crisis.

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