THE plight of childcare providers coping with insurance issues and increased regulation, as they get set to re-open, was highlighted this week by Deputy Michael McNamara, Chair of the Special Committee on Covid-19 Response.
The Scariff-based TD handed over the role of chair for part of last Tuesday’s hearings so that he could pose questions to sector representatives. He noted that in Clare, many childcare providers with whom he spoke during his General Election campaign flagged “huge difficulties” because of the burden of costs and administration. Deputy McNamara asserted that this was “primarily because of the Department and its policies”.
On the issue of increased red-tape for the sector, the Independent TD said providers in Clare had spoken of spending long hours on paperwork. He was responding to testimony from Paula Donohoe of the Association of Childhood Professionals, who had been forced to work full-time on administration. “My favourite part of the day was the three hours I spent in the room with my three to five-year olds,” she said. Unfortunately, as the workload has increased to a point that I found myself working on administration at home from 9 a.m. until midnight after I had put my child to bed, I have had to take the decision to step back and become a full-time administrator in my service.”
Deputy McNamara was also scathing of the insurance sector. “The insurance companies pretended to reimburse private car owners in a deal they appeared to hatch with the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform but they are reneging on their claims with pubs,” he said. “All of the premises of childcare providers were shut for a number of months so did they get reimbursed insurance costs such that insurance is no longer a worry for them this year?”
Responding, Paula Donohoe of the Association of Childhood Professionals said that she had been offered a three-month extension of her insurance period, while Marie Daly, CEO Crann Support Group said that of the 11 community childcare providers she was responsible for, none had been made any offer whatsoever.
“Some insurers are being decent about it,” Deputy McNamara concluded, “and others are being typically indecent.”