HUNDREDS of Limerick families are being left high and dry for after-school childcare, thanks to new regulations about the ratio of children to carers.
Scores of creches all over the city and county are being forced to withdraw their after-school services because of the new rules, which state that there must now be one childcare worker for every dozen children being cared for after school hours.
From September next, many creches have told parents they will not be able to continue to offer the service, leaving most parents with the stark choice of giving up one income.
Jenny and Kevin Murphy from Annacotty have had their three children in the same creche since their eldest child, now eleven was just three months old.
They have been told that their eldest children, Nicholas(11) and Adam(9) will have no place in the creche from September.
“I’ve rung every creche in the area and they are all completely full,” she told the Limerick Post.
“We know so many families with school going children in this area alone who are in the same boat. It’s terribly stressful.
“We both have full-time jobs. At best this means taking the children out of the creche where they have been cared for all along and finding somewhere else for them, if we could do that but that’s proving impossible.”
Jenny is a solicitor and her husband is a production supervisor, Neither have an option of working from home and neither think they would be able to opt for part-time work.
“I can’t understand how so many children can just lose their places. This is a terrible blow for working families. Unless we find a solution quickly, it looks like one of us will have to give up work,” she said
“It’s ridiculous all children that age need is homework supervision and a snack. It’s not as if the creches are obliged to implement a programme for them,” said Jenny.
Limerick Fianna Fail Deputy, Willie O’Dea raised the matter with Children’s Minister, Katherine Zappone in the Daíl. Describing the situation as “perverse” he said the “real danger here is that parents will be left with no childcare option.”
Minister Zappone said she does “not expect to see” an overall reduction in the number of childcare places as a result of this change in regulations.