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Two-thirds of childcare providers seek financial help to reopen

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Stock photo: PA

Stock photo: PA

Stock photo: PA

TWO-thirds of childcare providers have sought financial assistance from the State to reopen from the coronavirus lock-down.

The update from the Department of Children came after it had provided "inaccurate" figures to Tánaiste Leo Varadkar which he used to respond to a claim by Aontú TD Peadar Tóibín that the sector was in "chaos".

Creches are under pressure as the reopen due to the need to adapt to Covid-19 protocols, capacity issues and staff costs.

In the Dáil Mr Varadkar said that 60pc of services have indicated that they will be reopening by September and this may rise.

He also pointed to a government reopening package of €75m.

A spokesperson for Mr Varadkar later said this information was "inaccurate" and the Department of Children would be clarifying the matter.

The Department this evening said that the figure of 60pc was the number of childcare providers that had applied for the grants as of Monday.

It said that as of close of business last night 66pc - two-thirds - for the 4,500 providers had applied.

The Department added that Children Minister Roderic O'Gorman "is confident that that the number of services confirming that they will reopen, by applying for this grant, will continue to increase over the summer months.

Mr O'Gorman this evening also announced that 85pc of 2,624 providers who responded to a Department survey plan on reopening.

Earlier in the Dáil Mr Tóibín claimed the sector is "in chaos".

He said he had received information indicating that 180 providers have closed their doors since the start of the pandemic and that the closures are "accelerating".

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"In the past week alone it has been reported that 55 childcare providers have closed," he said.

Mr Tóibín claimed: "The childcare sector is dying on its feet, yet the Government is sitting on its hands."

He called on Mr Varadkar to ensure childcare services have the necessary supports to prevent further closures.

Mr Varadkar said that 40pc childcare facilities usually close in the summer period and added: "We want to make sure the sector is fully up and running for September and October in order to meet demand." He provided the "inaccurate" 60pc figure for the number indicating they would reopen in September.

Mr Tóibín said he was referring to "complete" closures, not creches that shut down in the summer.

He said there needs to be a "proper injection of support and a lifeline given to the childcare sector in order to protect it."


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