Family Resource Centre National Forum calls on Tipp TDs to pledge support for childcare staff vaccines

Noel Dundon

Reporter:

Noel Dundon

Email:

nd@tipperarystar.ie

Huge demand for new childcare scheme from Louth families

FRC calls for the support of Tipp TD's

There are four FRCs based in Tipperary, located in Cashel, Nenagh, Thurles and Tipperary town employing 40 childcare staff who care for over 200 children.

The Family Resource Centres National Forum (FRCNF), the national representative body for Family Resource Centres (FRCs) in Ireland, is calling on local Tipperary TDs to pledge their support for childcare staff to be prioritised in the national vaccine rollout.

The Family Resource Centre programme is the largest community-based family support programme in Ireland. There are four FRCs based in Tipperary, located in Cashel, Nenagh, Thurles and Tipperary town. Together, they employ a total of 40 childcare staff who care for over 200 children.

Currently, the Covid-19 vaccine priority rollout includes childcare and early years educators in group 11 out of 15. The FRCNF is calling on the Government to move their access to vaccines to allocation group 4, alongside ‘other healthcare workers not in direct patient contact’.

The call has come amid concerns that staff are having to deliver services ‘unprotected’ as the Government has classed childcare for vulnerable children and children of essential workers as an essential service.

Commenting today, Clare Cashman, Chair of the FRCNF, said: “Today we are calling on local Tipperary TDs to show their support for childcare workers, and help us advocate for their positioning on the vaccine rollout programme to be improved, so they can continue to deliver essential services.

“Childcare and early years practitioners – in Tipperary, and nationwide – provide an integral frontline service. On-site provision resumed in June 2020 and has continued to operate since, and most notably on 4th January this year, during a peak in virus transmission, essential childcare services resumed. It is a matter of urgency that childcare staff are prioritised in the vaccine rollout, so they can be kept safe at work and continue to provide childcare for other essential workers and vulnerable children.

“Although childcare has been deemed low risk, evidence provided by the HSE shows a higher rate of infection in childcare settings compared to primary and post-primary. Our childcare teams are in a unique position of being frontline workers as they are unable to socially distance from the children. The Government must recognise the vital role they are playing in the pandemic, and if priority is not given to childcare workers, childcare for essential workers and vulnerable children could be under threat, as facilities may be forced to close.”

The Family Resource Centre programme has been in operation for over 25 years, and is currently funded by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. Further information is available at www.familyresource.ie.