Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for Children and Youth Affairs, Anne Rabbitte TD, has warned of an impending capacity crisis that could hit the childcare sector in the coming months as the country reopens following the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.

Speaking in the Dáil on Wednesday evening Deputy Rabbitte outlined issues that crèches and Montessori’s around the country are facing as the country begins to reopen post-Covid.

Deputy Rabbitte commented, “The childcare sector already had dire capacity constraints pre-Covid, but it seems that this may worsen as crèches reopen to all workers from July 20th, as per the government’s roadmap. There are several questions that remain outstanding and we need clarity from the Minister on this.

“The government’s roadmap says that when this happens, it may be for one day per week to begin. What will parents do for the remainder of the week if they are back in their workplaces?

“If a crèche must reduce its numbers to facilitate social distancing, numerous parents will be left without a space in their crèche, even though the wage support schemes had ensured a space would be kept. For example, you could have a crèche who normally has space for 100 children, but that’s now reduced to 50 due to social distancing.

“For such services who reopen with a reduced capacity, will the Department continue to pay for their pre-Covid capacity or the new, reduced capacity? If it’s the latter, services will still have many of the same pre-Covid costs but with less income, leaving many in a financially unviable position and they may have to close. What is the Department and NPHET’s advice around this?

“Transparency is key and providers, staff and parents need to know what plans the Department of Children and Youth Affairs have. The government will need to ensure there are adequate supports in place, so we don’t see more services closing,” concluded Deputy Rabbitte.