Almost 90% of childcare providers want to support frontline workers

Justin Kelly

Reporter:

Justin Kelly

Email:

justin.kelly@iconicnews.ie

Almost 90% of childcare providers want to support frontline workers

Almost 90% of childcare providers want to support frontline workers

89% of childcare providers want to support frontline workers through a specially-designed childcare scheme, according to survey results released this week by Early Childhood Ireland, the membership organisation for the early years sector.

The issue has been consistently highlighted in the media since last month’s Covid-19 measures were first introduced, however, with no confirmed outcomes reported, Early Childhood Ireland has this week acted to survey more than 3,800 childcare-providers that make up its membership. The survey focused on a possible childcare scheme for frontline workers and received a 34 per cent response rate from providers around the country. 

Key findings of the survey are as follows:

89 per cent of childcare providers want to support frontline workers; Almost three-quarters favour a setting-based model. 

50 per cent are available to open their setting for this purpose in the immediate term. Those who are not available are generally already involved in other Covid-19 response activities, such as preparing meals for families in their area, or are personally involved in caring for their own parents or others who are cocooned.

Survey respondents noted the need for additional information and support on a range of issues before such a scheme could be implemented. 

These include:

- The provision of PPE for childcare workers, and advice on using same.
- Information on next steps if a childcare worker becomes ill.
- Access to Covid-19 testing.
- Support for deep cleaning of childcare facilities.
- Clarity on the logistics of the programme, including hours of work and distance to be travelled; insurance cover for participating services; and the tax implications of any income received.
- Need to maintain link between employer and employee

Releasing the survey results today, Early Childhood Ireland highlighted the need for the proposed scheme to maintain a clear and strong link between childcare employers and their employees.

Teresa Heeney, Chief Executive Officer of Early Childhood Ireland, said: “Any scheme to provide childcare for frontline staff should maintain the link between employer and employee.  Otherwise, the Government’s goal of supporting business continuity will be broken for the early years sector, with medium and long-term consequences.

“To date, arbitrary arrangements have been put in place to provide childcare for frontline workers – often via social media.  While laudable and well-intentioned, such measures should not form part of any government initiative.  They would use precious government resources and bypass qualified childcare providers.  They would also distance childcare employers from their staff.

“All staff delivering childcare for frontline workers under this proposed scheme should be trained in early-years care and education and should be supported by their employer in delivering this role.  If the link between employers and staff is broken, this would single out our sector for treatment that is against the overall economic recovery strategy. It could severely impact on the ability of our members to re-open, as they will not be able to meet adult: child ratios should staff not return to or delay their return to their employers, once the current crisis is over. The inability of our sector to re-open promptly and fully would, in turn, affect the wider economy.

“Early Childhood Ireland has welcomed the opportunity to contribute to the design of the proposed scheme, and we have consistently offered our expertise and support to government in this regard.  We will continue to liaise with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs on behalf of our membership over the coming days and weeks to ensure the proposed scheme is as effective and successful as possible.”