Zappone to face Dáil questions over collapse of childcare scheme for frontline workers

Children's Minister Katherine Zappone will face the Dáil on Wednesday to answer questions on the collapse of the government's proposed childcare scheme for frontline workers.
Zappone to face Dáil questions over collapse of childcare scheme for frontline workers

Children's Minister Katherine Zappone will face the Dáil on Wednesday to answer questions on the collapse of the government's proposed childcare scheme for frontline workers.

The scheme would have seen childcare workers taking care of children of frontline workers at a cost of €90 per family. However, it was cancelled late last Wednesday after only six providers signed up.

Providers cited concerns on the transmission of Covid-19, a lack of insurance availability, an inability to meet rest and break obligations as well as concerns on safety of staff working alone.

Speaking in the Dáil the following day, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that he had heard about the scheme's collapse on the news.

On Wednesday, TDs will have the opportunity to question Minister Zappone on the scheme's collapse, with many pushing the need for a replacement to be put in place immediately.

Fianna Fáil TD for Cork North West Aindrias Moynihan says an alternative plan is urgently needed.

“An alternative solution needs to be found here and quickly. We cannot expect frontline staff to be worrying about how they are going to meet their childcare needs at a time when they are doing tremendous work across the country”, he said.

“Our healthcare workers deserve proper childcare supports to enable them to do their job without sacrificing annual leave, asking family members to move into their household or pay over the odds for childcare in their home.

“The failure to get this scheme off the ground is embarrassing for the Minister and one that must be re-examined immediately."

Labour Party Cork East TD Sean Sherlock said that a clear place was needed on reopening the entire childcare sector.

“We saw with the poorly planned out, now panned scheme for healthcare workers just how important it is to get every detail right.

“Many healthcare staff are still left in the lurch without childcare, which also means less essential workers on the frontline.

“That is why we need a clear and coherent plan for the reopening of the childcare sector as a whole that takes all these issues into account; the Government needs to show a real sense of urgency on this."

Wednesday will also see Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty and Education Minister Joe McHugh before the Dáil.

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