A Government scheme to provide childcare in the homes of some 5,000 essential workers that was due to begin next week has been scrapped.
The scheme was launched last Thursday by children's minister Katherine Zappone with a call to childcare services to volunteer to provide childcare for health workers in their homes.
However, the scheme was mired by problems from the outset when it emerged that childcare providers would not be covered for Covid-19 related insurance claims if they took part in the scheme.
Last night, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) said that just six childcare providers had applied to join the scheme and that it had become clear that the low uptake "is unlikely to change".
"A variety of reasons have been put forward for the low sign-up rate. These include availability of insurance cover, concerns about possible virus transmission, difficulties in meeting employer responsibilities in relation to breaks and rest periods, and concerns about a lack of protection for staff working alone," said a statement.
Labour's Seán Sherlock said the collapse of the scheme highlighted the "shambolic" approach of the Government and contrasted sharply with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's "premature comments" about reopening schools and crèches.
“The Labour Party highlighted the major problems with Garda vetting and the lack of insurance cover as key impediments to the proposed scheme. However we did put forward solutions but the Government failed to act."
“We had called for a state insurance indemnity for providers specifically to deal with the issue of Covid-19 as insurers had said they would not cover this risk. We knew from the Minister’s intervention last week that this could not get the buy in it needed to work. The terms of the scheme left too many questions unanswered," he said.
Mr Sherlock said the collapse of the scheme "puts the other stages of opening up childcare for families in jeopardy".