Friday 9 December 2016

'Childcare' and working remain incompatible under new plan

Published 15/10/2015 | 02:30

'Mr Howlin inadvertently pointed to the glaring and obvious drawback of the scheme. Those currently working in the institutions are low waged, may or may not be appropriately trained and heard about all this for the first time on Tuesday'
'Mr Howlin inadvertently pointed to the glaring and obvious drawback of the scheme. Those currently working in the institutions are low waged, may or may not be appropriately trained and heard about all this for the first time on Tuesday'

When is childcare not childcare? When it's education. Teachers regularly remind us parents - who sometimes don't quite make collection time on the dot of three, or forget to pick up our kids on a half-day due to stressed schedules - that they are not babysitters. And indeed they are not. It is up to parents to arrange their children's care after the school day is over, not teachers to twiddle their thumbs awaiting absent-minded parents.

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If it seems I have first hand knowledge of this, you'd be right. Only the couple of times, mind you, but it was mortifying for me and the child to find him, all forlorn, in a classroom where all the 'good' mums had turned up on time, as per the note now languishing under a squished sandwich in the bottom of the schoolbag.

Brendan Howlin is a former primary school teacher and is formidably careful with language. So, in announcing a year's "free childcare" in the Budget, he set mammies' pulses racing at the notion of their au pair, crèche or child-minder suddenly getting paid by the State.

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