A Cork City primary school is to take over the management of an adjacent creche that unexpectedly closed this week.
Last Friday, the Cork City Childcare Committee (CCCC) learnt that Ballyphehane’s Maria Assumpta Pre-School will no longer have a board of management. Two board members, who were praised by the CCCC, have resigned after years of service. The number of people on the voluntary board had fallen dramatically in recent years and there were difficulties in finding new members.
An emergency meeting was held on Monday night and the board of Mary Assumpta national school agreed to take over management of the preschool immediately. The preschool’s 40 children and five part-time staff were told on Tuesday that it was closing.
Kathryn Riordan, of CCCC, said it is hard for groups to fill board places, as there are “far fewer younger people coming forward to work on boards in a voluntary capacity, especially in organisations where there is much responsibility”.
Cork city councillor, Mick Finn, says he is concerned about “a constriction in the number of preschool services in the Ballyphehane area — my fear is that we won’t have enough places for children, if this continues”.
Meanwhile, the CEO of Early Childhood Ireland, Teresa Heaney, says the Department of Children needs to find a new funding model for creches in disadvantaged areas: “They have completed a review of Deis schools and have used a model to examine what funding they will need in the future, and what frameworks they should best work in.
“We need something similar for these community creches. The needs of the wider family, in these creches, are often particularly acute and staff provide support that goes far beyond early-years education. They also have a greater administrative burden, as they have more dealings with support services and agencies, such as Tusla, as children have additional needs or have social workers. A key issue is that they are not receiving extra funding for this extra work.”
The funding problems of creches in disadvantaged areas are a magnification of those facing the wider creche sector: “The childcare sector in Ireland is in real crisis, in terms of recruiting staff and keeping them and we’re seeing this as a direct result of low pay, low morale, and an ever higher administrative burden. As a result, we are losing great people from the sector and this will have a negative effect on children.”
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