A creche located in the most deprived area of the country has been forced to temporarily close, just three weeks after reopening, as it did not have enough employees to cover Play Pods, introduced at early learning centres under Covid-19 requirements.
The King’s Island Community Creche is located in the heart of St Mary’s Park, which last September, according to research commissioned by Pobal, was identified as the most impoverished part of the country.
The “deprivation index” found there were 77.25% of lone parent families in the area, with 69% of men and 40.4% of women unemployed.
Local parents said they were “shocked” when they received a letter from management at the creche last Thursday informing them it was closing until further notice.
Katie Rainbow, whose three-year old son, Kayden, attends the creche, said the closure would have a devastating impact on them both.
My child has no siblings; we live in an apartment without a garden or any outside access; the creche is his escape everyday, and now it’s gone.
"He’s missing out on his play therapy, he needs interaction with his friends. Covid-19 was bad enough for children, they're bored, they’ve suffered, and now our creche, which has been a godsend, is closed,” she said.
“There's nothing I can do, the local pre-school is full; two others nearby have closed; there’s nothing in our area. This is more added stress already on top of my shoulders, I’ll be pulling my hair out,” said the 29-year-old.
She may now have to give up working as a cleaner to look after her son.
I’m a single parent and I have no other parent to mind my child. I relied on this creche. It's not fair, I don’t know if it’s going to reopen, we’re left in limbo.
Post the pandemic, the creche, operated by the Northside Family Resource Centre (FRC), employed 17 staff to look after a compliment of 72 children. It reopened on June 29 with 15 staff to cater for 27 children but could not continue to meet the ratios required under the legislation after six employees went on sick leave.
Ciara Kane, chief executive, Northside FRC, said an immediate recruitment programme was underway, and she hoped it could re-open in September.
She said: “I’m absolutely heartbroken. Lockdown has taken its toll on families here in very different ways. I was so anxious to get the children through the doors, because this is where they need to be, and this is what is good for the family because they have chosen to put the children here,” Ms Kane said.