Anger and confusion over crèche closure

Tamara O’Connell
OVER 160 people attended a protest on Saturday last over the closure of a creche in mid Louth.
It was announced two weeks ago that Scallywags Creche in Togher would close its doors, despite having €450,000 in cash reserves.
Speaking to The Dundalk Leader local Fine Gael Councillor and parent Colm Markey said: “There is shock and disappointment amongst parents.”
The decision is leading to the loss of 15 jobs and childcare facilities for 40 parents in the community.
However, the Togher Community Project Group, which operates the creche, is said to have in the region of €450,000 in cash reserves.
Parents of the children attending Scallywags are demanding a U-turn on the decision to close.
“We were given two reasons for the closure. The first was Covid-19 and the second was a staffing shortage,” said Colm.
“Parents received a phone call about the issue. There was no proper survey. I think a proper survey of parents should have been completed.
“It’s a registered charity and a not-for-profit organisation. It’s not a private enterprise so I think the decision to close the creche was unacceptable.”
He added: “I understand why someone might want to retire. There’s nothing to stop someone from retiring. Just let others have the opportunity to have responsibility for it.”
Louth Childcare Committee Manager Claire Woods said that the reasons given to her for Scallywags closure was Covid-19 and difficulties with staffing.
“We offered support to try and help the creche to stay open. We explored a range of options but we were told these had been exhausted,” said Claire.
“We were told the decision to close had been made and was irreversible.”
Meanwhile 29% of workers in the childcare sector say they are earning less now than they did before the pandemic.

A new SIPTU survey shows just under a third of childcare workers plan on leaving the sector within the next year.
The union says most early years professionals were earning below the Living Wage of 12.40 per hour before the pandemic hit.

They are calling for the Children’s Minister, Roderic O’Gorman, to reintroduce the Temporary Wage Subsidy Childcare Scheme to bring their earnings up.
This comes after the closure of 56 childcare providers across the country in recent weeks, leaving an estimated 2,600 children without a daycare or preschool place.

The Federation of Childhood Providers says it expects more closures to follow, with reduced capacity for social distancing making many businesses unprofitable.

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