Letters to the Editor: Money should not be the priority with childcare

Investment is needed to increase wages, make services more sustainable, and cap fees to provide children with consistent, quality care
Letters to the Editor: Money should not be the priority with childcare

Low pay in the childcare sector leads to a high turnover of staff and this can have negative effects on children who benefit from consistency of care.

The financial model of childcare has to go: When you turn ‘care’ into a business, money becomes the priority instead of people.

The current childcare model has caused sustainability problems for services: It has caused fee issues for parents; it has left childcare staff struggling on obscenely low pay, and children have been forgotten.

The financial focus has kept pay low and because of this, staff turnover is high; some creches have a 40% turnover. 

Staff leaving constantly can have negative effects on children; children need consistency of care. If the staff in a creche are constantly changing it can create difficulties for children.

The name of the game is investment and it’s essential that the money goes to the right areas: Wages need to increase; services need to be sustainable; children need quality, consistent care, and fees need to be capped. 

The best way to achieve those is to introduce a publicly funded model.

After working in the sector for the past 15 years on poverty pay, a new model can’t come soon enough. 

Staff have worked hard and are halfway through the process of achieving our first national pay agreement through a Joint Labour Committee. Our pay agreement would work smoothly within a new model.

We just need politicians to do the right thing for young children, their parents, and childcare staff.

Deborah Reynolds

Corofin

Co Galway

Action needed to tackle creche crisis

The issue with creche spaces is going on far too long.

I was lucky to get my son into a creche almost three years ago. However it was quite a distance from home, yet there is a lovely creche across the road.

This means I have a 30-minute round trip across the city every morning and evening, and I am dependent on having a car — with all the associations of additional expenses for me, and air pollution and climate impacts for other people.

It was a massively stressful experience ringing around creches nearby and then going further afield in the weeks when I was due to go back study for my PhD.

For mothers now, this stress means they have to extend their time off into unpaid time or give up work altogether, a very difficult decision to make or to have forced on you.

Like many issues — facing mainly women — politicians have known about this for at least three years and have done nothing about it.

Aoife Long

Model Farm Rd

Cork

Israel’s crimes against children

A familiar scenario will be played out all over Ireland in the coming week as parents are seen leading children to their first day at school. 

This marks the beginning of 12 years of schooling that, while being challenging at times, will be both happy and rewarding as children develop in a safe and nurturing environment.

The situation for Palestinian children today is markedly different.

Already this year, 71 Palestinian children have been brutally killed by Israeli forces. Many more have been injured or traumatised. 

Palestinian schoolgirls run across the Kalandia checkpoint between Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Ramallah as Israeli soldiers direct the movement of pedestrian traffic. Picture: Jamal Aruri/AFP via Getty Images
Palestinian schoolgirls run across the Kalandia checkpoint between Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Ramallah as Israeli soldiers direct the movement of pedestrian traffic. Picture: Jamal Aruri/AFP via Getty Images

Palestinian children are under daily attack as they make their way to and from school.

According to Defence for Children International — Palestine, an independent human rights organisation, many are forced to walk through Israeli military checkpoints and be searched on their way to school. 

One student reports that when she asked not to go through the search room she was shouted at by an Israeli soldier who threatened to shoot her. She and her classmates were terrified.

Other students are subject to detention and interrogation. Many of these fall so far behind they end up repeating a grade or dropping out.

A school principal in Nablus reports that Israeli soldiers regularly block the school entrance, causing intense stress and anxiety to students.

During 2020, the Norwegian Refugee Council documented an average of 10 attacks on education per month by Israeli authorities and settlers.

Currently, at least 53 schools in the Occupied Palestinian Territory have demolition orders issued against them. 

Overall, the UN estimates that more than half a million Palestinian children face challenges in accessing education in a safe, child-friendly environment.

To highlight these egregious violations of children’s rights by the Israeli authorities Sadaka, the Ireland Palestine Alliance, has joined with Defence for Children International — Palestine to initiate a campaign under the slogan ‘No Way to Treat a Child’.

We are asking our government, and the political parties, to seriously consider if condemnation of Israel’s continuing breaches of international law is enough. Surely much more needs to be done to end these crimes against children. 

Ireland’s presidency of the UN Security Council in September provides a perfect opportunity to address these issues at the highest possible political level.

Justin Kilcullen

Sadaka board member

Shankill

Dublin 18

Think outside the box on housing

I write in response to the article by Michael Clifford: One-off housing too hot to handle as the planet burns (Irish Examiner, August 25).

As someone who has lived abroad for 12 years and is thinking of returning to Ireland, housing options are at the forefront of my mind.

I agree with the argument that the cost of servicing and maintaining one-off houses spread throughout the countryside is far too expensive.

However, would it not be more prudent to push some of these costs onto the dwellers, meaning if you want to live in the countryside there comes with it a higher annual cost. 

These people already bear the cost of waste, school buses, trimming hedges, etc. Enforce rules on post box locations so every postman isn’t driving to the front door, so there are options to reduce these costs on the taxpayer. 

People living in the countryside should be aware it’s now becoming a privilege.

In terms of electricity, in the not too distant future battery technology will mean that what we generate can equate to our output — with modern houses running far more efficiently.

New phone lines will be wireless; 5G wireless towers are already here.

It’s not a massive leap to say that, in the next 20 years, a lot of these dwellings will be largely “self-sufficient”.

Water can be from a well or group scheme; the same for septic tanks handling household sewerage — with modern domestic septic tanks being far more environmentally friendly than most council set-ups.

So the proposal in years to come could be: Build a new one-off house in the countryside — but you have to live off the grid.

On the other hand, an option B is simply not there — a nod to the housing shortage. But to expand on this, urban planning during the Celtic Tiger of stacking thousands of identical three-bed semi-detached in one place was short-sighted and profit-focused for developers.

The option of living in a four-bed, two-bathroom home with a decent back garden has to be made available if country-minded people are forced to move into urban areas. 

Solving the housing shortage by building thousands of apartments “as they do in Germany” is not an alternative for someone who yearns for the countryside and space. Apartment communities work in city areas but the average town and village are different.

Town planners have to broaden their horizons and look around the world to learn what is working in building communities for people who want to live with a sense of fresh air, countryside, and space around them.

Plonking 80 three-bed semi-detached houses on the outskirts of towns and villages have to be done away with.

Think of a farmer’s daughter with the option of living in a 100sq m three-bed semi as opposed to asking Dad for a site and building a 250 sq m house for a similar cost.

So before we jump to getting rid of one-off housing, we need to improve option.

Eamonn Fitzgerald

Perth

Australia

Nphet to be disbanded in October

The report that the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) is to be disbanded in October will be broadly welcomed by many as its dissolution is to signal the end of the public health emergency. 

Others will say that it is far too soon as we are not out of the woods just yet.

Each country within the EU has differed in their approach to Covid as opposed to devising a unifying generic approach.

What has been extraordinary in the Irish context is the power which Nphet wielded as the crisis went on. 

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan during a briefing at the Department of Health in Dublin earlier this year. Picture: Brian Lawless/PA 
Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan during a briefing at the Department of Health in Dublin earlier this year. Picture: Brian Lawless/PA 

Chief medical officer Tony Holohan became the de facto taoiseach as the Government exported all its responsibilities to them.

So yes it right that Nphet should be disbanded but there needs to be an advisory body in place to occupy the role which Nphet should have adhered to in the first place.

When the Dáil resumes, an inquiry into how we dealt with the pandemic needs to launched. This could be handled by an Oireachtas committee similar to the select committee set up in Britain.

It is crucially important that not only is the economic and social response analysed but also how decisions were reached in terms of imposing restrictions. 

Who knew what when? What was the governing structure? Who reported what to whom and when? 

For that even if Nphet is to be disbanded, its members need to acutely aware that they would still be called before such a committee as they and their actions must be held accountable.

Killian Brennan

Malahide Rd

Dublin

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