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Crèches told to stop charging parents in return for financial deal

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Meeting: Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone secured the measures. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Meeting: Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone secured the measures. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Meeting: Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone secured the measures. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Childcare providers will be asked to stop charging parents for places in crèches in return for a major bail-out for the sector during the Covid-19 emergency.

Children's Minister Katherine Zappone secured a substantial rescue package for the industry which will give childcare businesses and their staff State support in return for ditching fees for parents who are worried about keeping their places.

There have been calls from across the political spectrum for a solution to the issue facing thousands of parents who are caring for their children at home while also paying crèche fees to retain their place.

Ms Zappone demanded the introduction of significant financial measures during a heated Cabinet meeting with her Fine Gael colleagues on the coronavirus.

The new scheme will ensure every childcare worker who is out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic will get €350 a week if they are retained by their employer.

Yesterday, the Government committed to paying 70pc of employee wages, up to €410 per week, for businesses who are willing to meet the remainder of their staff's weekly ­payment.

However, in the case of childcare workers, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) will pay the additional 30pc up to €350, rather than the employer.

The childcare provider will be expected to retain the staff in return for this payment which will last for the next 12 weeks.

"Staff in the sector are poorly paid, so DCYA will pay a retention top-up, so all staff will earn €350," a Government source said.

Childcare providers will also receive an additional payment from the department, which will be based on 15pc of their staff costs.

This payment will go towards the cost of a business's rent, overheads and insurance for the next three months.

In return for these payments, crèche owners will be asked to sign a "Covid emergency agreement" asking them not to charge parents while also ensuring their child's place is secured until social-distancing rules come to an end.

Providers will also be asked to take active steps to reinstate staff who they may have already let go so they can take part in the scheme.

They will also be asked to allow Revenue access to their payroll databases so payments can be calculated.

Childcare staff will be asked to use their time off work to continue their professional development or up-skill in return for their payment.

Irish Independent


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