An Ennis childcare provider is accusing the Children’s Minister of ‘insulting their intelligence’ by dismissing requests for additional funding for the sector.
Providers across the county who operate an Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) service have closed their businesses today to protest the inequality within the new core funding model for the sector.
Clare members of the Federation of Early Childhood Providers (FECP) marched to the Daniel O’Connell monument in Ennis this morning to protest the lack of additional funding for their services.
The representative group argues that the new core funding model is only advantageous for larger providers and that smaller businesses have lost higher capitation and support payments, leaving their services completely unviable.
Providers decided at the eleventh hour to close their doors today as discussions with the Minister for Children, Roderic O’Gorman, continued up until yesterday.
However, a deal could not be struck, with Minister O’Gorman reiterating his priority in freezing fees for parents.
The Clare representative for the FECP, Connie Hannon, says she and others in the industry have been left deflated by the Minister’s failure to engage.
Connie, who runs Teach Abhaile Pre-School and Naíonra in Ennis says providers didn’t want to close today, but felt their hands were tied.
ECCE operators in Clare want to see the capitation per child increase as a matter of urgency in order to cover costs.
The current rate is €69, but providers say it needs to increase to at least €76 in order to match the level of inflation.
Geraldine O’Driscoll runs a montessori in O’Callaghan’s Mills and is fearful for the future of small rural childcare businesses.
An East Clare childcare provider is warning that if smaller operators are pushed out of the market, that the quality of the service will diminish.
Mary Keogh from Tiggers Nest in Ardnacrusha says it’s the smaller childcare facilities that really get to know the children and families.
Parents also showed up in their droves to support today’s protest.
Ennis mother Michelle O’Keeffe and her daughter were in attendance at the march and she’s calling on the government to protect the service she depends on.
You can listen to the full interview with protestors at the Height in Ennis below:
Speakers include: Connie Hannon from Teach Abhaile Pre-School and Naíonra in Ennis, Lorraine Tuohy, St. Paul’s Montessori School in Limerick, Itty Knight from Scariff Playgroup, Geraldine O’Driscoll, from Stepping Stones Montessori in O’Callaghan’s Mills, Mary Keogh, Tigger’s Nest in Ardnacrusha and Ennis parent Michelle O’Keeffe whose daughter attends Little Scholar’s in Ennis.