Tuesday, 12 November 2019
Ceisteanna - Questions
Cabinet Committee Meetings
Last Tuesday, I was asked to go to an emergency meeting of parents of children in a crèche, the Magic Roundabout. They were already paying €1,100 in monthly crèche fees, which I find staggering. Those fees will go up to €1,250 a month while 20 of the parents will lose their kids’ places in the crèche. This is because Tusla told the crèche it needed to make changes, which it did. Tusla then came back and stated that because of the changes made, the floor space was reduced and it would have to get rid of 20 of the kids. This is in the middle of the term. It is unbelievable.
This is against a background where 27 crèches are threatened with closure and parents are saying they have been left in the dark about these matters. Parents are flabbergasted, shocked and do not know what to do.
In the case in question, the parents have asked for a meeting with the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Deputy Zappone, to discuss the matter. I must stress that if there were any health and safety or fire safety issues, these parents would be the first to say something must be done. What is not acceptable, however, is the sort of ham-fisted, box-ticking, blunt-instrument approach that appears to be taken by Tusla in terms of crèche facilities, compliance and so on. The big point the parents in this case made was how can one bring in a scheme for two years of free preschool care in the ECCE, early childhood care and education, scheme but not actually provide for the places, particularly considering the shockingly high levels of costs parents must endure.
Will the Taoiseach comment on that? Judging from the attitude at the meeting, there is an explosion on the way on the issue of childcare costs and the lack of childcare places.