BY EMMA CONNOLLY AND KIERAN O’MAHONY
CRECHES and playschools throughout West Cork closed on Wednesday to join a national protest to the Dail.
Staff and service providers claim the childcare model in this country is broken and vastly underfunded. They said they had no other choice but to inconvenience parents with the closure or join scores of child care businesses that are closing every other week.
A spokesperson for Forever Friends childcare in Beara said: ‘The sector is over regulated, under funded and under valued. Parents are paying high fees with most of this going on running costs and not wages. High quality services don’t come cheap and we can’t continue to subsidise the real cost of provision through low wages, unsustainable service and high fees for parents. The State must accept responsibility and significantly fund this vital public service.’
Meanwhile, a meeting was held in Kilbrittain last week to discuss the setting up of a community run pre-school after it was confirmed that the existing privately-run Kilbrittain Montessori pre-school, will close in two years’ time.
Emma O’Sullivan, who operated it out of the community hall for almost 20 years, is retiring and will close the pre-school in June 2022.
However, new childcare regulations put in place by Tusla means that any new pre-school starting up must have an outdoor area, which the local community hall does not have.
Sharon McSweeney – a staff member – said a committee of which she is a member was formed following the meeting, which was very well attended by parents and public representatives.
‘We wanted to let parents know what is happening and going forward we plan to have discussions with local community organisations about finding a suitable premises in the village,’ said Sharon.
‘We need a standalone suitable premises with an outdoor area ahead of the school year of September 2022 and we plan to fundraise for this, too. We are also open to suggestions from members of the community.’