Child Care and Early Learning Sector in Crisis, Whilst Government Looks On!
Questioning the Taoiseach in the Dáil today, Aontú Leader & Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín has said that the Childcare and Early Learning Sector is in Crisis.
An Teachta Tóibín: “While the Government is calling for parents to reduce their children’s social and human interaction, the Government has refused to provide timely PCR, free antigen tests and any Contact Tracing to the Child Care and Early Learning sector”!
“Staff are waiting for 5 days for a PCR result leading to wholesale absences. They are still forced to buy Antigen Test for €8 and €9 as the discount stores that do sell them at €3 are sold out after ½ hour. Its incredible that the state wont subsidise such as basic tool against Covid. Because there is no Contact Tracing in Child Care or Early years this means the illness is spreading in sector. Some parents are so desperate to try work and get money in the door particularly in these hard times, they are sending kids into childcare facilities with Covid symptoms, giving them a spoonful of Calpol, and hoping for the best. In other cases Parents are being told they can’t bring in their children. Many are withholding fees which is hammering small community facilities. Staff are forced to work 9 hours straight with no breaks, only able to take their lunch with the children on their lunchbreaks. Several providers have had to shut temporarily until staff can get a PCR test and their results”.
“This sector is at breaking point. One manager told me that she got 5 text messages from staff saying they are close contacts and they cant come in. I have been told about staff on Xanax or Valium to handle the stress. This is a sector on the verge of a mass walkout, and I do not say that lightly. If the Minister does not act now, he will be faced with thousands of childcare providers, staff and parents taking to the streets to demand he do his job. The Minister can prevent this by subsidising antigen tests for the sector, providing priority PCR tests for close contacts, to reinstate contact tracing in childcare facilities, and to lay on cover staff to ensure childcare facilities do not have to shut down over a close contact.”