Confusion over Covid-19 wage support scheme could force Longford childcare providers and staff to leave the sector

Longford TD Joe Flaherty is concerned that local childcare providers are becoming increasingly frustrated

Longford Leader Reporter

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Confusion over Covid-19 wage support scheme could force Longford childcare  providers and staff to leave the sector

Longford TD Joe Flaherty is concerned that local childcare providers are becoming increasingly frustrated

Longford / Westmeath TD, Joe Flaherty, is concerned that local childcare providers are growing frustrated with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs as confusion reigns over the Covid-19 Wage Support Childcare Scheme.

The scheme is designed to run alongside the Revenue’s Wage Support Scheme. However, the Department announced late on Friday that the scheme has now been pushed back until a later date as it is not yet ready to launch.

Deputy Flaherty said: “Many local childcare providers signed up to the scheme and have been paying staff themselves in the expectation that these monies would be refunded. However that now looks uncertain and it was foolhardy to unveil a plan until all the details were finalised.”

The Fianna Fáil TD said he could appreciate that many Departments are having to react to a crisis as it evolves but equally it is clear there is a pronounced lack of inter-departmental planning at this time.

Said Deputy Flaherty: “In this instance it is causing total confusion in the childcare sector locally. Staff don't know how they are going to be paid going forward or whether the €350 Covid-19 payment still applies. Parents aren't sure if they should be paying fees and providers are worried that they may in fact not be able to get through the next few weeks and be in a position to re-open at all.”

He added: Even before the Covid-19 crisis, there was a multiplicity of issues facing the childcare sector. Providers were struggling with costs and staff were delivering extraordinary service on minimum wages. If this uncertainty is allowed to continue providers will have no option but to let staff go and some of the most capable and best trained childcare staff in Europe will be lost to the sector forever.”