CRECHES across Cork may be forced to close if demands sought by the sector are not met within the next Budget.
The Early Years Staffing Survey Report 2021 of more than 3,000 managers and staff in the childcare sector in Ireland has indicated that many facilities face reducing services or potential closure over the coming months due to an inability to recruit staff.
Of those surveyed, 97% of managers stated that the recruitment crisis will negatively impact service provision.
Eva Mitchell, Cork-based Strategic Organiser for Siptu said she is regularly receiving calls from people leaving the sector.
In the survey, 75% identified low pay as the reason for their departure while 80% said they will have to leave the sector if nothing changes within the next year.
From the conversations she is having with people in the sector, Ms Mitchell said they simply cannot afford to stay in their careers.
As a result, there have been issues across services as many are without the staffing numbers to comply with required ratios.
“In some cases, while they may not have to close the service overall, they may have to look at closing baby rooms or closing specific rooms within the service, reducing the number of children and reducing the number of kids they can take every year,” she said.
In its pre-budget submission, the New Deal for Early Years campaign, which includes Siptu, is urging the Government to invest an additional €150 million in childcare, split evenly between pay and affordability measures.
Throughout the pandemic, Ms Mitchell said the importance of the services was highlighted.
“We’re calling on the government to adequately fund them to the tune of €150m in this upcoming budget because we cannot see this crisis continue to deepen.
"It’s going to significantly impact on the provision of care for kids and the provision of quality care for kids.”
If their needs are not met within the Budget, Ms Mitchell said there will be service closures in Cork.
“It might not be the case in the city itself but in the county, definitely it’s just not going to be viable for people to continue if they don’t have people to work in the services.”
Ms Mitchell noted the current lengthy waiting lists for parents seeking a space for their child.
If conditions continue, she said we are going to see the “crisis deepen”.
“Parents are going to find themselves in a situation maybe next year where there’s even more limited capacity than there was for say, this year.”
In July, SIPTU, together with a coalition of eleven Early Years and civil society organisations launched the ‘New Deal for Early Years’ campaign for the reform of the childcare sector.