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Healthcare workers to pay €90 for childcare each week under latest government plan

Trade union Fórsa has requested more information on what the plan entails.

Image: Eamonn Farrell

Updated May 6th 2020, 10:10 PM

CHILDCARE IS TO be provided to families of healthcare workers from 18 May.

Outlining the details of the plan today, Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone said the new scheme would provide special childcare arrangements for 5,000 families.

Families will have to pay €90 per week for a childcare worker to look after children in the home, but the majority of the cost will be paid by the State, the minister said.

A total of 45 hours per week of childcare is available under the new plan.

Zappone said the cost of the scheme will be €4.7 million per week.

Childcare will be provided for a period of four weeks, with a review to take place after two weeks and also at the end of the month-long period.

Childcare workers that are employed under the scheme will be paid €15 per hour. Normal PRSI payments and leave arrangements will be honoured by the State, said Zappone.

Trade union Fórsa this evening said it has so far “received no information about the proposed arrangements, despite repeatedly seeking a solution to the issue of childcare provision for essential health staff since schools and crèches were closed on 12 March”.

Fórsa, which represents over 30,000 health workers, said it had repeatedly asked the government either to make direct childcare provision available to essential staff, or to meet the additional costs incurred by individuals who have been making their own childcare arrangements since schools and crèches closed.

In a statement, the union added that the minister’s offer of provision for 5,000 health staff “fell short of the HSE’s own assessment that at least 7,000 of its staff needed immediate support”.

Crèches reopening 

Speaking in the Dáil today, Zappone said her department are also working on phase three of the government’s roadmap which will see crèches reopen.

She said it is “inevitable” that childcare services and crèches will not be able to reopen with the same capacity as before the lockdown.

As a result, the costs families have to pay are set to increase, she said, adding that she does not envisage childcare businesses or families being able to absorb the costs. She said she will be arguing for state subsidies to substitute the gap.

Childcare for health workers is something which has been mooted for some time now, with the Taoiseach stating earlier this month that the government was ready to push the button on a plan.

However, measures to have childcare workers enter the homes of healthcare workers had to be cleared by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).

Leo Varadkar admitted a couple of weeks ago it was taking much longer than he would have liked to get a plan signed off on. 

“I understand people’s frustrations – public health has to be the number one concern.”

“I know people are very frustrated about it … whatever we do we have to get public health clearance, and one of the things we’ve tried to avoid during  the emergency is households mixing. So we just need to make sure that the national health emergency team are
satisfied with the proposal,” he said in April.

With reporting by Órla Ryan 

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