News & Media

Guarantee on childcare for essential workers at end of June needed

26 May 2020

Statement by Seán Sherlock TD
Parliamentary Party Chair and Spokesperson on Social Protection, Community and Rural Development and the Islands; Agriculture and the Marine

With more people slowly returning to work, Labour's Seán Sherlock said that a cast iron guarantee was needed that childcare for essential workers would return on 29th June as the Government has promised, as concerns in the sector grow.

It comes as Deputy Sherlock raised it directly with the Minister in the Dáil last week, but reports today said most operators would not reopen.

Deputy Sherlock, Labour's Children and Youth Affairs spokesperson said:

"The Irish Examiner today reports that 9 out of 10 childcare owners will not reopen at the end of June. That will be a disaster for working parents, and we still have no details of how the pod system will work.

“With more and more workplaces reopening working parents will be looking ahead to when they too are due to return to work but there is a ‘ticking time bomb’ for those who are due back before crèches reopen.

"Working parents need a cast iron guarantee that the childcare scheme for essential workers will be up and running from 29 June. I pressed the Minister in the Dáil last week to give that commitment after the collapse of the plan for frontline healthcare workers, and while she said there would be a scheme, we have yet to see any of the details of it.

"The details of that plan are meant to be brought to Cabinet by the end of this month, which would indicate we should have some sense of what will be proposed by Friday. The caretaker government is up against the clock on this. It's time the Taoiseach took some control of the matter to ensure this vital support is available to parents.

"Parents, and women in particular are being put under huge pressure on childcare. The CSO has found that more women than men are caring for a dependent family member or friend because of the COVID-19 crisis. It also found that women are more likely to report childcare issues related to the COVID-19 crisis and that women are finding it more difficult to work from home because of family being around.

“I appreciate the obvious difficulties when it comes to childcare and public health measures such as social distancing particularly among very young children, so we need to ensure that every ‘i’ is dotted and ‘t’ crossed in this regard; the health and safety of children and workers is paramount.

“We need a clear and coherent plan for the reopening of the childcare sector as a whole that takes all these issues into account; the Government needs to show a real sense of urgency on this."