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Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone)

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Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone)

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Snippet Contents:

Information and advice was provided to childcare providers both on Sunday 15th and Monday 16th October. On Sunday the 15th of October at 19.41, an announcement regarding the closure of childcare facilities was released on the PIP Portal. The PIP Portal is an IT system that enables communication with all 4500 services funded by DCYA. Operated by Pobal, DCYAs funding and administration intermediary, PIP is used for all important communications with childcare service providers. This announcement was based on the advice of the National Emergency Coordinating Group.
It advised that childcare providers should make safety their priority when deciding whether or not to open during the storm, but that if they chose to close my Department would ensure that the funding the providers would receive in the normal course would continue to be provided.
A press release was also issued and shared with key stakeholders who could further share on social media and other platforms. This information was also included in the statement released from the National Emergency Coordinating Group on Sunday the 15th of October. The relevant section from this statement is as follows: "Because of the duty of care owed to children and to avoid the risk arising from travelling, the Department of Education and Skills is instructing all schools to act on the Department's advice and remain closed. Crèches and Montessori facilities should also remain closed tomorrow."
As childcare facilities are independent, privately managed and governed entities it is not possible to issue a directive. My Department and the National Emergency Coordinating Group advised as appropriate and I ensured that where services closed they would not see any loss of public funding.
My Department again took steps to ensure that the same option remained open to providers on Tuesday when schools were closed. This was to facilitate the appropriate safety checks by the crèche owners. It was a matter for the service providers themselves to decide, but again I ensured their funding would still be available. As these childcare services range from very small to more substantial buildings, these checks would not in all instances be as onerous as a very large building like a school. Local decisions were required.
I am satisfied that our advice and support was measured, appropriate and proportionate.