400 families have 'nowhere to bring children on Monday' after five local childcare centres close overnight
'I have nowhere for my kids to go on Monday'
Up to 400 families in West Clare have been left without childcare from Monday after five childcare centres closed down unexpectedly overnight.
Mary O'Donoghue, Co-ordinator of West Clare Family Resource Centre in Kilrush, spoke to Independent.ie about the closures, which have come as a shock to 53 staff and 400 families.
"The first thing is that nobody knows exactly why this has happened. The first everybody heard of it was yesterday".
"I understand that 53 staff were informed by text message... basically told not to show up on Monday".
She told Independent.ie that "over 400 families have lost access to childcare in West Clare" as a result of the closures. These five 'Early Years' centres were the only "subsidised services" in the area, leaving only private childcare facilities behind.
"The (private facilities) won't be able to take people in, but more than that it will be beyond the reach of a lot of families who were using the services of West Clare Early Years".
The areas of West Clare which have lost their childcare centres are Kilrush, Kilkee, Lisseycassey, Kilmihil, Kildysart.
The Family Resource Centre are holding a public meeting tomorrow night (Monday) at 7.30pm to "bring everyone together to work to find the solution".
"Employers need to be understanding.. people use these services who are accessing 'Back To Education'".
"It was a community creche... it was there to provide affordable and accessible childcare for people".
"This is devastating in West Clare".
"We're hoping to develop a community response and that we will work together to reinstate the childcare centres".
Local mother Catherine Pender spoke to Independent.ie about the "shock" parents are feeling in the area.
Pender has two children using the services and says she found out that the centre had closed on Facebook.
"I saw it on Facebook last night... at around half ten they sent us a text".
"I have nowhere for my kids to go on Monday, no-one has. There are lots of parents who work full-time, what are they going to do?"
"There was no inkling... If they were running out of funding, they could have been shouting about this on the TV, in the papers before they decided to just go and (close) the place".
Pender says that her son will now lose the remainder of his first 'free' year in Montessori as it's "too late" to "get him in anywhere else".
"He's very shy, it's taken him a long time to settle in... now he loves his teacher, she's wonderful... but he's left with nothing, nowhere to go".
"It was the only (childcare centre) in the area".
Pender told Independent.ie that the staff, many of whom grew up in the area, have the sympathy of the local community.
"I feel sorry for the staff, they had no idea... just put out of a job like that".
"The Centre took on a new staff member within the month - she left a full-time job to work there and now she's out of a job. Why would you hire people if you know the situation is dire? It's very strange".
"It's a disaster, I am livid.... it's outrageous".