WHEN the budget was announced last year 60,000 extra children were made eligible for a second free preschool year which starts in less than five months.
This measure, on the face of it, was a progressive and welcome announcement to ease the disproportionate burden placed on so many young working families but as is so often the case the promise and the delivery do not match up.
Childcare providers have warned they they simply do not have enough time to extend their premises, select staff and reorganise their working hours to extend the scheme. Early Childcare Ireland warned that “there is no way it can be delivered in time, absolutely no way”. Recognising the over-reach the Department of the Environment asked planners to “expedite” planning applications by childcare providers who wish to be part of the scheme. In some cases children will be asked to leave as facilities do not exist to offer them a place for the extra year. This, ironically, places a huge burden on some of the families the measure was designed to help.
Childcare, especially the cost of it, has been a bone of contention for many years but it remains one of the issues sidelined time after time. It is, however, brought to the fore every time there is an election on the horizon and a solution is promised. This is one of the many pressing issues awaiting attention while our politicians behave like spoilt toddlers in an out-of-control creche.
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