Seas Suas, the representative group for independent childcare providers, says the Government and the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) need to prioritise education and childcare provision as part of all phases of a lockdown exit.
The group says childcare provision needs to be considered across all phases signalled for lockdown exit and plans need to be grounded in ‘practicality’ and ‘reality’.
“As the representative body for independent early learning and care (ELC) providers in Ireland, Seas Suas notes commentary today with regard plans and discussion on the reopening of creches, schools and other education facilities as part of plans to exit the current lockdown.
“We understand that plans being worked on by the NPHET would see childcare provision for non-essential workers reopen as part of the later stages of the phased reopening plan, anticipated to be September and beyond.
“Childcare provision needs to be considered across all phases signalled by NPHET and plans need to be grounded in practicality and reality. We need to prioritise the needs of parents and children and ensure there is adequate childcare provision as any, and all, workers return to work.
“If it is the case that some sectors of our economy will begin to open in June, July and August, parents returning to work will require childcare provision and we need to prepare for that reality with tangible solutions.
“Seas Suas is acutely aware and recognises the scale of the challenge faced in considering how to manage childcare in a COVID-19 world. Taking decisions on how best to re-introduce ELC provision, while maintaining the highest level of precaution in the interest of public health, is a complex task.
“We have witnessed the ongoing difficulty in providing childcare provision for our frontline healthcare workers, with many proposals put forward this week and last which are unworkable.
“While a complex task, we need to find solutions and ensure the necessary structures are in place to support NPHET proposals and recommendations on the phased plan to exit coronavirus lockdown.
“Seas Suas is calling on NPHET and the government to prioritise education and childcare provision as part of all phases and we are ready to bring our expertise to bear - as the representative body for the largest group of employers in the childcare sector in Ireland - in advising on how our members can and should best manage ELC over the coming period, in the best interest of our children, parents, childcare staff and public health.”