Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children & Youth Affairs Anne Rabbitte has criticised the rushed manner in which Minister Zappone has introduced new restrictions on after-school services.
The new regulations have been published without any consultation with service providers or parents.
I am shocked that the Minister would introduce such stringent regulations on after-school services without properly consulting the providers of these important services or the parents who use them. These services are vital for working parents, who want to see their children cared for in a safe and happy environment. The fact that neither the providers nor the parents have been consulted is astounding, said Deputy Rabbitte.
She went on to say:
Many of these childcare services for school-aged kids take place in national schools, allowing kids to do their homework and chat with their friends. Some schools even offer breakfast clubs before school to facilitate parents who need to leave for work early in the morning. Now, without consulting the providers of these services, Minister Zappone has introduced new regulations which must be implemented by the summer of this year.
These regulations require new staff ratios that are essentially double what most providers are operating at, and this will have a serious impact on the cost base of services. I would not be at all surprised to see operators leaving the sector.
She went on to express her disappointment:
Does the Minister have so little respect for the industry that she does not think it is worth her time to seek their views? I am truly disappointed in this, and am calling on the Minister to re-assess the situation, sit down with service providers and establish a proper lead-in time.