More help needed for childcare
Councillor Sinéad Maguire feels that more must be done to support childcare providers and parents in County Sligo in spite of a government announcement earlier this month, of €6.25m in capital funding to providers of Early Learning and Care and School Age Children.
Councillor Maguire said: "All investment in childcare is welcome, and the Sligo allocation of €136,277 announced earlier this month is good news.
"However, there has been no serious capital funding invested in childcare sector in Sligo since 2005. This allocation is not enough to meet the current demand for childcare places.
"This is of concern for all parents, and indeed their employers, as they return to work after maternity and paternity leave."
"The positive work done by Government in securing almost full employment, needs to be matched by more childcare places to be made available for working parents.
"We need serious capital investment by the Government to create and maintain childcare places."
"The success of the ECCE Scheme has resulted in more limited availability of spaces for baby rooms, where the staff-to-child ratio of 1:3 requires more intensive staffing by childcare providers.
"New regulations being introduced in the autumn whereby childcare providers are obliged to have one adult to twelve children will require additional staff and will incur increased costs.
"This may result in service providers having to reduce the number of places available.
"These are issues which will require urgent attention to avoid extra burdens on parents, and in particular here in Sligo.
"In Sligo we are at 98% capacity in childcare facilities which means there is little or no capacity to provide additional spaces other than through unregulated providers."