After the government announced a €75 million package for childcare providers yesterday, they have been urged not to hike fees for parents.
As childcare providers are set to begin reopening from June 29, the government has urged them not to increase their fees to beyond pre-Covid-19 levels.
Katherine Zappone, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs yesterday announced a €75 million package for such providers, but stated that if they availed of this package, they must agree not to raise fees for parents, at least until the assistance ended in August.
The minister, who was speaking to RTÉ, explained that there were a number of initiatives childcare providers could apply for. These include a reopening grant, which gives providers with more than 100 children €10,000 to aid in getting their businesses running again, including staff training and purchasing hygiene products.
There is also a once off capital grant to cover things such as outdoor play equipment, and outdoor shelter and shade to allow the children they care for to spend more time outside, as there is less risk of coronavirus transmission in open spaces.
The government will also continue to cover a percentage of wages in the childcare sector under the revenue wage subsudy scheme, and from June 29 all previous schemes for the sector including universal subsidies and targeted subsidies for parents will recommence.
Although crèches have said that if they reopen, they will only be able to do so at 40 per cent capacity due to social distancing measures required, the minister said that with these funding supports the businesses should be able to run at a profit.
However, The Federation of Early Childhood Providers has disputed this, urging the government to provide more money. Its chair Elaine Dunne told RTÉ that these measures do not help all childcare providers.
"I run a full daycare service that can facilitate 55 children, but only 19 are coming back," she explained. "In my service I would probably get about €2,000 each week just to sustain my business but my outgoings for that month are €10,000. People don't want to put their children in for July and August. This is leaving me no choice, I am going to have to go to the parents of children and ask them to pay fees."
The federation said it was afraid that hundreds of crèches would not be able to reopen without further funding.
Featured image: Jelleke Vanooteghem via Unsplash
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