The Campaign for Community Employment Reform recognises that new regulations brought in by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs are placing community crèches at risk of closure. The new regulation stipulates a CE participant without a complete QQI level 5 in Childcare will no longer count as an adult to child ratio number in the room. Essentially, the person will no longer count as a child-carer.
There are some who would argue that having a qualification in childcare is necessary considering the recent scandals demonstrating negligence uncovered by RTE’s “Prime Time” programme. It is important to note that in all of those awful incidents, the crèches in question were profit run in the private sphere. Corners were cut regarding staffing numbers to maximise profits, Community Employment crèches are the exact opposite, operating on a not for profit nature. In community crèches, a CE participant undergoing training is in the room with experienced staff. Their training is facilitated by on the job experience and the mentor ship of professional child carers. These crèches are run to a high standard as there is no market incentive to reduce staff numbers.
These new regulations will mean CE dependent community crèches will find it increasingly difficult to replace staff with those already accredited. Recruitment is already drying up as a result of the destructive Jobpath policy. What we are asking for is that in keeping with the equitable standards of other industries such as those undergoing apprenticeships that C.E. Employees are treated as members of staff and are no longer invisible in the room.
With that in mind, the following letter has been issued to the Minister of Children & Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone.
I am writing to you on behalf of the Community Employment Reform Group. Our members operate Community Employment Schemes throughout the Dublin area.
As you will be aware, Community Employment provides a network of vital community services upon which vulnerable community members depend. One of the most important services we provide is childcare in the context of ongoing training for people who have been long-term unemployed and are seeking to re-enter the workforce.
Recent changes in the regulation of childcare and the staffing ratios are putting our members – and the countless hundreds of other CE provided childcare schemes – at risk of closure. This development would leave many families on lower incomes without affordable childcare and raise barriers to them remaining in the work as their cost of childcare increases.
Changes to the rules governing staffing ratios were, until a late change in December, going to prevent CE trainees from being present in a childcare setting. This would have forced closure upon schemes immediately. The subsequent change to allow them to be in the room but not count toward the staffing ratio (qualified adults:children) places significant cost barriers on community childcare.
Providers currently receive funding from the DSP per trainee. Other supplemental sources of income may be used to pay for the qualified staff/trainers. This is a fine balance at the moment and the change in ratios will require community childcare providers to hire additional qualified staff on a 1:1 basis with incoming trainees. That means that the effective cost of providing training (and hence providing childcare) increases exponentially per trainee place available.
As we are sure the Minister is keenly aware, Community Employment provides communities across the State with a deep network of services. It has always acted where State provision has not been fully accessible to the community and is a partner of the state in looking after some of the most vulnerable communities in Ireland.
Many vulnerable families rely on community childcare services that are supported by community employment. They focus on early intervention which promotes the development, health and wellbeing of children. We fear that the changes to the staffing ratios as they begin to roll out in our sector, when combined with policy changes enacted by DSP such as Job path will lead to closures. The reduction in affordable community childcare places will directly lead to an increase of people on the live The reduction in affordable community childcare places will directly lead to an increase of people on the live register.
Our group would appreciate greatly an opportunity to meet you to further discuss these issues and work toward resolutions, which better serve our communities.
Community Employment Reform Group”