A TENDER document inviting submissions of business plans from interested parties to operate a preschool service from the former Farranree Stepping Stones location has been published.
Cork City Childcare set the tender live on Wednesday seeking expressions of interest to provide a sessional preschool offering the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme at 98A Knockpogue Avenue.
The document states that all business plans will need to provide “at a minimum a sessional service for 37 children” and that a “key priority” for the tender “will be to demonstrate a strong community ethos and plans to engage and collaborate with local stakeholders”.
The service is currently Tusla registered to provide sessional care for children aged two to six years.
Cork City Childcare said arrangements will be put in place by relevant stakeholders to allow the successful applicant of the tender to operate a childcare service for a period of three years, after which the arrangement would be reviewed.
Earlier this month, parents of children in Stepping Stones preschool were issued with a letter informing them that the school would not be reopening in August, citing funding issues and difficulties in maintaining a Board of Management as the reasons behind the decision.
A small protest against the decision was held outside the school last week attended by parents, staff members and politicians.
Speaking to The Echo, Fianna Fáil councillor for the city’s North West ward, Tony Fitzgerald welcomed the publication of the tender.
"The children and their families were at the heart of this challenge to reorganise the service and I want to thank all those who worked hard behind the scenes to ensure that the children would be able to go to preschool after the summer.
"While there is a lot of work needed to open the centre there is good will and expertise in abundance to provide a service,” he said.
Speaking last week, Sinn Féin TD for Cork North Central, Thomas Gould said he hoped any potential new management who might take over the school would keep on the preschool staff who were just let go, a point echoed by Socialist Party TD for Cork North Central, Mick Barry.
Mr Gould said while the reopening of the preschool is “not over the line” yet, he understood a “number of providers” had expressed interest in running a service at the location.
Cork City Childcare said it is anticipated that the service would be reopened for September 2022.
“We would like to thank the Board of Farranree Stepping Stones and other stakeholders for supporting us to facilitate this tender and secure a childcare provider for the Farranree area,” the organisation also states in the tender document.
The closing date for the submission of proposals is 5pm on Wednesday, August 10.
For further information see: www.activelink.ie/vacancies/tenders/92882-cork-city-childcare-invitation-to-tender.