Thursday 19 October 2017

'I can't afford childcare elsewhere' - Dad forced to defer year of study as college closes créche

Shane Greene and his two-and-half-year-old daughter Alexandria
Shane Greene and his two-and-half-year-old daughter Alexandria

Claire Fox

A student has said that he is forced to defer his year of study at a Dublin college due to the recent closure of its crèche.

Shane Greene is supposed to be entering his third year of study of Digital Media at It Tallaght in September.

He told Independent.ie that he will have to defer his year of study at the college if the crèche doesn’t reopen, as he cannot afford private childcare for his two and a half-year old daughter, Alexandria.

"I’ll have to defer for a year. I can’t afford childcare elsewhere. I’d be left with peanuts. I’d sacrifice my education so my child can get what she needs," he said.

"I’m not going to offload her on just anybody and have her bounced around the place. She needs stability. It’s really depressing for me that this has happened."

Shane said that childcare is a "huge barrier" to education and he is aware of student parents who will have to drop out of college due to the crèche closure.

"It’s great for lone parents, mature parents and young parents trying to come back to education.

"It means a lot because childcare can be a huge barrier. I know another student who has four kids and will have to drop out because of the crèche closing," he explained.

Shane’s daughter, Alexandria, had been attending the Fledglings crèche since she was six months old. He said he doesn’t understand why their tender application wasn’t renewed again.

"My child was happy there. She went in at 6 months old and now she’s walking and knows everyone and wants to see her friends. She’s really come out of herself. The service was second to none. I couldn’t fault the crèche there," he said.

"There’s a building ready and workers were happy and the parents were thrilled with the care the kids were getting. Why close what’s working? Why wasn’t the tender sorted out?"

A statement from IT Tallaght said that it had to close the crèche as they were unable to find a tender for the crèche for September 2017 that met its criteria.

"Following the procurement process, the Institute was unable to make an appointment as none of the applicants met the minimum procurement criteria," it reads.

The statement also said that the college will reopen the tender process on August 15 and if it was successful the crèche would be able to reopen it in January 2018. Shane said that this is too late and that the college are "breaking their promise" to him.

"The main reason I went to the college was because of the crèche. I don’t get a SUSI grant. I was studying a diploma in Multimedia Production in Stillorgan College of Further Education and I didn’t think I’d be able to do further study but I saw that IT Tallaght had a crèche. Childcare was a big deal for me," said the Dun Laoghaire man.

IT Tallaght’s Students' Union President Jason Kavanagh told Independent.ie that a total of 31 students will be affected by the closure. He said he doesn’t understand how the criteria for running the crèche has changed.

"It was such an important service and allowed students from disadvantaged backgrounds and mature students to come back to education. The college aren’t telling us why the criteria for a tender have changed. It’s affecting 31 students and that’s not including incoming students who expected a crèche service to be provided."

IT Tallaght also stated that they would provide financial assistance to students with regards childcare. This fund however is being cut to cover one child per incoming and part-time students. Current full-time students with more than one child will continue to benefit from the full fund.

Tallaght Central Anti-Austerity Alliance Councillor Mick Murphy said that the move is "another cutback".

"It’s another cutback attempt and we intend to support the students as it’s important to those going back to education. It’s happening in the Minister for Children’s own constituency and we’re going to fight it."

A meeting is being held later today in IT Tallaght where the student’s union and parents will meet with local politicians to discuss the closure.

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