Childcare reopening plan needs to be considered alongside phased reopening of schools – Seas Suas

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  • Seas Suas has called on the Government to provide clarity and put a plan in place for the reopening of childcare for all children
  • Representative group reiterates call for childcare professionals to be considered ‘key workers’ in vaccination roll out plan having written to the Taoiseach and Minister for Health in recent weeks
  • Seas Suas Chair: ‘Parents have been doubling up as carers and educators for weeks now and we need to give them some certainty.  This will come in the form of a plan as we see schools reopen while firm clarity can also be provided if the sector is protected and deemed fully safe by vaccinating childcare professionals within the ‘key workers’ group in the vaccination roll out plan.’

With schools set to reopen within weeks, and a final cabinet decision due this week, the representative body for independent early years’ services providers, Seas Suas has called on the Government to consider the phased reopening of the childcare sector for all children, including full day care, and provide clarity.

Seas Suas has today urged the Government to provide clarity and put a plan in place for the reopening of childcare for all, in line with the phased reopening of schools, and avoid any short-term or last-minute decisions.

Early learning and childcare settings are currently open for the children of essential and frontline workers and vulnerable children only and Seas Suas believes that this sector must be considered in line with the phased reopening of schools to provide clarity for providers and parents.

‘Parents and providers need clarity. We can’t be in a situation where there’s a timeline for school reopening and none for the reopening of early learning and childcare. We need to be fair to parents and to children and provide notice so they can plan. The Government need to outline a timely plan for the sector to allow providers to communicate with parents in advance,’ said Seas Suas Chair, Regina Bushell.

‘Parents have been doubling up as carers and educators for weeks now and we need to give them some certainty.  This will come in the form of a plan as we see schools reopen while firm clarity can also be provided if the sector is protected and deemed fully safe by vaccinating childcare professionals within the ‘key workers’ group in the vaccination roll out plan which we have sought in a letter to the Taoiseach and Minister for Health.’

An Amárach Research survey, conducted among 2,500 people last week, found that 82% of all Irish adults believe childcare professionals should be classified as ‘key workers’ in the vaccination roll out plan.

The research also found that one in three (33%) were concerned about productivity at work saying that having childcare settings open would mean parents can return to full productivity at work.

The research results follow the recent call from Seas Suas for childcare professionals to be classified as “key workers” in the Government’s vaccine rollout programme in an open letter to the Taoiseach. Childcare professionals are currently eleventh in the Government’s fifteen-phase rollout plan. Reclassifying childcare professionals as key workers would place them in the sixth phase of the rollout.

Commenting, Bushell said: “While it is a welcoming move to see a phased reopening of schools being planned for, early learning and childcare including full day care must be part of that plan also and we urge the Government to provide clarity. Parents are understandably seeking answers from us yet we, like them, remain in the dark on when our sector can reopen fully or under what public health criteria.

“We continue to recognise that trying to provide certainty during a pandemic is an enormous challenge. However, it is not ideal to have a phased reopening of schools planned without a phased reopening of early learning and childcare for all. Take a family of three where two children may return to school and the third may continue to be educated and cared for at home – this is not helpful for working parents continuing to juggle all. Children will also need time to reintegrate with their friends and teachers, having been apart for so long.”

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