Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children & Youth Affairs Anne Rabbitte has expressed concern over new changes to the Childcare Community Employment scheme, which will have serious staffing implications for community crèches across the country.

The new regulations, which were introduced in January, see changes to the way adult:child ratios are calculated, and now no longer include Community Employment Scheme workers.  This means that community crèches are facing a choice between taking on more staff or reducing the number of places they offer.

Deputy Rabbitte commented, “The latest information released to me reveals that there were 1,816 Community Employment workers employed in community childcare settings in 2016.  This highlights the huge reliance on CE workers within the community childcare sector, and as a result, the changes brought in last month will have serious ramifications for community crèches.

“I, and my parliamentary colleagues, have met with community crèche managers who are telling us that this situation is completely unsustainable. They have repeatedly told the Minister for Social Protection that if they don’t receive additional funding, they will be forced to charge increased fees to avoid closure.

“Fianna Fáil acknowledges the need for quality childcare, and we understand that the Community Employment scheme was always intended as something to supplement, rather than replace, the existing workforce. That is not the issue here, however.  As a result of the Government’s failure to increase capitation rates, many community childcare facilities are reliant on CE workers to ensure they remain sustainable.

“The current model is not a viable long term option and I am calling on Minister Varadkar to close this funding gap, before community crèches are forced to close”.