Wednesday, 20 May 2020
Department of Children and Youth Affairs
Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
As the Deputy is aware, on Friday 1 May the Government released its Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business, which sets out Ireland's plan for lifting COVID-19 restrictions through five phases. The re-opening of Early Learning and Care and School-Age Childcare (ELC and SAC) services will be guided by this framework and will be underpinned by the Return to Work Safely Protocol, expert advice, available evidence and consultation with ELC and SAC stakeholder representatives.
The Roadmap proposes the gradual re-opening of ELC/SAC services as follows:
- Phase 3 (29 June), opening of crèches, childminders and preschools for children of essential workers in a phased manner with social distancing and other requirements applying.
- Phase 4 (20 July), opening of crèches, childminders and preschools for children of all other workers on a gradually increasing phased basis and slowly increasing thereafter.
My Department is currently developing and costing proposals for the different phases of reopening in line with the Roadmap. This is complex work and must balance a number of important issues.
I am actively engaging with key stakeholders in the sector to make sure that the work on re-opening services is informed by the practical constraints that services face. I have established and chair an Advisory Group that includes membership from across the sector, specifically the Association of Childhood Professionals, Childminding Ireland, Early Childhood Ireland, the National Childhood Network, the National Forum for Community Childcare Services, PLÉ, Pobal, Seas Seas and SIPTU, as well as Pobal and Tusla. The first meeting of this Advisory Group took place on 13 May with the second meeting on 15 May.
Officials in my Department are currently liaising with the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) in relation to advice on infection prevention and control, including the use of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), by childcare providers. Public health guidance on these matters will be shared with childcare providers at the earliest opportunity.