Commenting on remarks made by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, a spokesperson for childcare and independent early years’ service providers body, Seas Suas said:

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“We are surprised and disappointed by the Minister’s remarks. Such disconnected dictate in completely out of touch with what is happening on the ground.

“Upon the announcement by Government of the latest lockdown, we immediately moved to engage with our families to put in place arrangements with them regarding costs. These include reductions, credits, and suspension in childcare fees. We put similar arrangements in place last Spring at the time of the first lockdown. We know our families and understand their needs. It is disappointing that the Minister has painted a misleading picture to what is actually happening on the ground.

“What is important now is that we put all our energies into meaningful engagement so that we are ready for the difficult period ahead.

“We need to learn the lessons of the first lockdown. Early learning and care providers are frontline staff and should be treated as such. If we can’t function, society can’t function. Rather than start this latest phase of the crisis in ‘them and us’ mode, we need to work together. We have the benefit of the experience of last Spring to call on. Let’s do that together quickly and in a spirit of collaboration.

“Given the indications from NPHET as to the scale and duration of the current infection levels, we need to work towards a solution that meets the needs of families and providers for the next three to six months.

“As we’ve stated previously, childcare requires a whole of government approach. We saw last year what happened when operating in silos. This is not just about the Minister for Children. We therefore urge government to intensify meaningful and informed engagement.”

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