Fund for struggling childcare providers will be made available next week

Concerns raised about sector viability for a reduced number of clients during restrictions

Fund for struggling childcare providers will be made available next weekPhotograph: iStock

Fund for struggling childcare providers will be made available next weekPhotograph: iStock

 

A sustainability fund will be used by Government to offer additional supports to struggling childcare providers in order to remain open for the children of essential workers from next week.

The fund itself is not new but following ongoing engagement with the sector, the Department of Children said on Friday it will examine ways in which it might be used to help providers experiencing “sustainability issues” as a result of the current restrictions.

Details are yet to be finalised but it is understood it would likely be made available to those under particular financial strain.

The move followed a meeting between department officials and various representative groups of childcare providers on Friday.

Concerns had been raised about their viability in maintaining basic service provision for a reduced number of clients.

Earlier this week, childcare providers were asked to refund or suspend fees paid by parents who are not essential workers and cannot avail of their services during January.

Appeal

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman had made the appeal on the basis of “extensive financial supports” available to the sector but this was deemed insufficient by many.

The apparent breakthrough was welcomed by Childhood Services Ireland (CSI), the Ibec trade association representing the industry, which had been seeking assistance.

CSI had written to the Government to make the case that it would be “extremely difficult” for many providers to maintain services for so few children. Some would inevitably find themselves operating at a loss, it said.

“Providing safe childcare services to our nurses, doctors and other frontline and essential workers is critical in keeping our health service running and our providers are ready and willing to play their part, but they need urgent assistance from Minister O’Gorman and his Department to do this,” CSI director Darragh Whelan said.