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Deal struck with Government to provide funding for childcare services for essential workers

The IBEC groups said all childcare services will be open for children of frontline and essential workers and vulnerable children.

Updated Jan 8th 2021, 8:35 PM

A DEAL HAS been reached between the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the childcare sector on emergency funding.

In a statement this evening, Childcare Services Ireland confirmed that a deal had been struck after days of uncertainty over Covid-19 restrictions and childcare for frontline workers. 

“This means all childcare services will be open for children of frontline and essential workers and vulnerable children during this phase of restrictions,” the organisation said. 

Childhood Services Ireland Director, Darragh Whelan said: “We have been working extremely closely with the Department over the past few days to secure this sustainability funding. This will be a huge relief to parents and providers alike.’’

“This sustainability fund will enable the childcare sector to continue to provide services to the children of frontline and essential workers and vulnerable children. We are utterly committed to playing our part in dealing with this national emergency and our focus is to continue operating safely and responsibly.’’

“There are still a few details to be worked out, such as the timing of the funding, and full details will be announced as soon as possible.”

A spokesperson for the Department said: “The Department has a sustainability fund in place to support services with sustainability issues. This is additional to the existing financial supports for services, including the EWSS.

“Where a provider has sustainability concerns as a result of the current Covid-19 restrictions, additional supports may be made available under this fund to ensure services can continue to operate.  Further details on this fund will be issued shortly.”

The government earlier this week announced that childcare services will remain open but only for vulnerable children and the children of essential workers, until at least the end of January.

Cabinet has also agreed that a household of an essential worker, without an existing childcare arrangement, can form a bubble with another household for the purpose of providing childcare.

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Childcare providers have sought clarity from the government on who exactly is an essential worker as many people fall into this category.

Childhood Services Ireland, the Ibec group representing the Irish childcare sector, had raised concerns about a funding gap for providers. 

“Childcare providers are being asked to remain open with hugely reduced occupancy, but they won’t be able to do this long term unless funding is available for them to do so.

“It is also crucial that all current funding schemes remain in place, including the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) and Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) schemes,” the organisation said. 

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