A cross-party representation of political figures in Cork is to make representations to the minister for children seeking a rise in funding for creches in the most disadvantaged parts of the country.
Seven creches looking after vulnerable toddlers across Cork City claim they are not receiving enough funding to re-open services next September due to changes to staff/child ratios which mean they must hire more staff that they cannot afford. Another six creches say they face closure in September of next year.
The Cork Early Years Alliance says its subvention per child needs to be doubled as its children have far greater needs than children in private creches.
It is also arguing it should receive an increased staff grant and an acknowledgement that its work is also early intervention family support which is proven to reap dividends for the child and its wider family.
Up to 225 children, aged one to three years, attend these early years community creches and the staff also provide wider support to their families, many of whom are disadvantaged by homelessness, addiction or mental health challenges.
The alliance outlined its predicament to TDs and councillors at the Imperial Hotel on Monday.
“We are to receive a payment of €4.20 per hour per child but this figure does not take into account how complex our work is,” said Niamh Sheridan, manager of the Togher Family Centre.
“An average of three children in each of the 13 services who will be affected by this funding gap over the next 19 months has a social worker and over half of them have been referred by mental health workers.”
The creches who look set to close in September include Togher Family Centre; An Cliabhan in Ballyphehane; the Traveller Visibility Group creche at Shandon; Baile Beag in Mayfield; Glenfields Childcare in Ballyvolane; Mahon Community Development Project; and Before 5 creche in Churchfield.
The department said it is “finalising a package of support for services who have engaged with Childcare Committees Ireland” but the Cork Early Years Alliance says it has no guarantees of sufficient funding beyond September.
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