Minister Zappone’s new afterschool regulations will force many afterschool services to close their doors, leaving parents and children without a high-quality afterschool service.
That’s according to Fianna Fáil TD Anne Rabbitte, who said the regulations will require new staff ratios which in some cases are double what most afterschool services are operating at.
The East Galway TD believes the new regulations on all afterschool services were introduced without properly consulting the providers of these important services.
“She is expecting them to be able to find and employ a huge number of additional employees before the new school year begins in a number of weeks,” said Deputy Rabbitte.
“Given the shortage in qualified childcare employees it’s a hugely unreasonable ask.”
Many afterschool services take place in national schools, allowing kids to do their homework, unwind with their friends and participate in afterschool activities.
Deputy Rabbitte said that while having the highest standard of care is important, she believes a common-sense approach is needed.
“These children will be leaving classrooms where there would have been a teacher-student ratio of 25:1. What the Minister is saying is that there should then be an afterschool ratio of 12:1. This also puts some of the after-school activities in jeopardy.
“The Minister is taking a nonsensical approach in imposing the same restrictions whether it is junior infants, or sixth class students being looked after. Their care needs are clearly very different, and a one size fits all approach is not in anyone’s interests.
“The recent RTÉ investigates programme on the Hyde and Seek creches really hit home the need for high-quality, trustworthy and affordable childcare. We also learned that parents are severely restricted in their childcare choices. If afterschool services are forced to close it will restrict them even further,” she added.