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‘Crisis’ in childcare over new ratio rules

Thursday, 16th February, 2017 1:01am

New rules on teacher-child ratios in crèches and nurseries could result in a “crisis” for the childcare industry.

This is according to the Association of Childhood Professionals.

The Department of Children has told childcare providers that Community Employment (CE) scheme workers will no longer count in teacher-child ratios. This means that facilities that relied on CE workers to make up ratio numbers will now have to replace them with people with at least a level 5 childcare qualification in order to stay open.

Childcare facilities do not have the funds to deal with this change, explained Marion Quinn, Chairperson of the Association of Child-hood Professionals.

“There is no way for them to get that money. The money that was there has been absolutely eroded over the last ten years. They have nothing in the bank account. It’s that extreme,” she said.

Cork South Central TD Micheál Martin said that urgent action is needed on the issue.

“This will have a devastating impact on the provision of childcare in Cork. The providers simply do not have the resources or the income to replace the CE workers with paid full time staff members.

“The net effect will be a reduction in the number of childcare places available in the city and possibly the closure of some facilities,” he added.

Ms Quinn agreed that closures could be on the cards.

“There is an interim fund to get people to September. (After that) a lot of places will have no option but to close unless substantial investment is made,” she said.

“This will compound the issues already facing childcare facilities,” she added.

“We’ve been saying there’s a crisis for the last number of years. A lot of private services have simply had to shut because they’re loss-making. It’s massively difficult.”

“They can’t hire staff because of the poor wages. People who might work in childcare are saying ‘why get a qualification when the wages are so poor?’ and they’ll go working retail or whatever - it’s not worth their while. It’s a mess,” she concluded.

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