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Creches told to drop childcare fees in return for major bailout

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Childcare providers will be asked to stop charging parents for places in crèches in return for a major bailout for the sector during the Covid-19 emergency.

Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone secured a substantial rescue package for the industry which will see childcare businesses and their staff receive State support in return for ditching fees for parents who are worried about keeping their places.

Minister Zappone demanded the introduction of the financial measure during a heated Cabinet meeting with her Fine Gael colleagues today.

The new scheme will ensure every childcare worker who is out of work due to the Coronavirus pandemic will receive €350 a week if they are retained by their employer.

The Government committed to paying 70pc of employee wages up to €410 per week for businesses who are willing to meet the remainder of their staff’s weekly payment.

However, in the case of childcare workers, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DYCA) will pay the additional 30pc up to €350 rather than the employer.

The childcare provider will be expected to retain the staff in return for this payment which will last for the next 12 weeks.

“Staff in the sector are poorly paid so DYCA will pay a retention top-up so all staff will earn €350,” a government source said.

Childcare providers will also receive an additional payment from the Department which will be based on 15pc of their staff costs.

This payment will go towards the cost of a business’s rent, overheads and insurance for the next three months.

In return for these payments, crèche owners will be asked to sign a “covid emergency agreement” asking them not to charge parents while also ensuring their children’s place is secured until social distancing rules come to an end.

Providers will also be asked to take active steps to re-instate staff who they may have already let go so they can take part in the scheme.

They will also be asked to allow Revenue access to their payroll databases so payments can be calculated.

Childcare staff will be asked to use their time off work to continue their professional development or up-skill in return for their payment.

From The Irish Independent.