Thousands of parents could be left without childcare as creches are being forced to reduce the places they can offer because of new Government rules.
Opposition TDs have said they have been “inundated” with concerns from parents who have been warned their child’s place will not be available come September because of regulations being introduced under the Childcare Support Act 2018.
Fianna Fáil’s Willie O’Dea said parents are facing losing their creche spot as the regulations demand that childcare providers will be obliged to have one adult for every 12 children.
Mr O’Dea said the result of such regulations is that those children in part-time care are likely to lose out and some parents have said they were advised to put their children into full-time childcare to protect their place.
“Many parents would not be able to afford to do that even if they wanted to,” he told the Irish Examiner.
Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone has played down such concerns, saying: “I do not expect to see an overall reduction in the number of school-age childcare places as a result of the School-Age Childcare Regulations.”
She said that, in setting regulatory requirements, the primary consideration must be children’s health, safety and wellbeing, and these were the main factors considered when setting a minimum 1:12 adult-to-child ratio in the new regulations.
While some services may have to recruit more staff or reduce places, this will not be true for all school-age childcare services, she said.
“Nevertheless, to give service providers time to adjust to the new requirement, I made a decision to delay the date on which the 1:12 ratio comes into force by six months, from February 18 to August 18, 2019,” the minister said.
Ms Zappone said that if any parent finds it difficult securing a school-age childcare place for September, they should contact their local city/county childcare committee, which is available to support parents to locate childcare within their locality.
Mr O’Dea said that suggestion was “a complete joke” and totally insensitive to the plight many parents will find themselves in.