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'Intolerable pressure' - Government urged to reopen childcare facilities earlier for essential workers

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 (Stock picture)

(Stock picture)

(Stock picture)

THE government has been urged to “revise” the date that all essential workers can access childcare facilities – which is from June 29.

It has also been asked to clarify who will pay for a scheme to provide childcare for frontline workers in their homes from later this month.

Siptu divisional organiser Paul Bell welcomed the government commitment in its roadmap to reopen the country that childcare can be provided in healthcare workers’ homes from May 18 as a positive development.

But he said the issue of how health and essential workers will pay for these services must be clarified.

The government roadmap said that in phase one of the reopening from May 18, a Department of Children and Youth Affairs in-reach service will be provided in the homes of essential healthcare workers.

It will be provided by registered childcare workers.

The roadmap said the opening of creches, pre-schools and childminding facilities for “essential workers” will happen in a phased manner from June 29.

From June 29, facilities would be opened for the children of all other workers on a “gradually increasing phased basis (eg one day a week)”.

Mr Bell said the government must immediately revise its childcare policy and called for a special annual leave credit for all health and essential workers.

“Unfortunately, the proposed date of Monday June 29 is not good enough for thousands of health and essential workers,” he said.

He claimed the government remains lethargic in its response to an issue which is seriously impacting on a huge number workers involved in the health emergency.

Mr Bell said the scheduled date for the reopening of childcare facilities and services places a further eight weeks of “intolerable pressure” on frontline workers.

“Many health and essential workers rely on informal childcare arrangements usually with the assistance of parents, close older family members and combined with school or crèche facilities,” he said.

“The Government rightly in the defence of older people against the COVID 19 virus requested that these citizens cocoon but failed to address the consequence of this public health policy,” he said.

He said the issue of childcare has also been devastating for lone parents trying to attend work.

Mr Bell called on the government to engage with unions and the HSE to compensate workers who use their annual leave to carry out childminding obligations.

He said they should be reimbursed with an annual leave credit that could be used later in the year.

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