Community crèche in crisis talks over threatened closure

By Maurice Garvey

THE Markiewicz Community Centre Crèche in Ballyfermot is in talks with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs in an effort to keep the service open for the community.

In July, The Echo reported how the crèche was facing closure on August 31, due to a change in regulations.

DECIES ROAD creche

New requirements which came into effect on June 30 under the Early Years Quality Agenda, state all staff working in childcare services require a minimum Level 5 qualification.

This leaves the Markiewicz crèche in a position where they must hire an additional five staff by September 1.

The Decies Road crèche has served the community for 18 years and cares for up to 40 children.

Up to eight staff could also be affected if no resolution is brokered.

Teresa McGouran, CE Supervisor Markiewicz Community Centre Crèche, said they are working on a plan with the department, but didn’t want to comment further due to the sensitive nature of the talks.

Sinn Féin councillor Daithí Doolan said: “The crèche provides an essential service to the community. My own kids went to a crèche and benefitted greatly. We can’t lose it.

"The new regulations have been in the pipeline for sometime, but there is no point in the department coming in hard and heavy, that doesn’t benefit anyone. If it closes, everyone loses.”

Doolan has called on Minister Katherine Zappone to “ensure the crèche is kept open with a commitment from the crèche to upskill staff.”

In a letter responding to Cllr Doolan’s plea, Minister Zappone’s office acknowledges the new regulations “may cause initial difficulties” but states the department are committed to ensuring high-quality childcare services, whether facilities are provided on “a community not-for-profit basis or not.”

The department have allocated €3.5 m in funding to upskill 3,000 staff, and said they have established a project to examine the impact that changes will have on childcare services “currently dependent on CE workers to meet ratio requirements.”

They said they are prepared to work with the Markiewicz centre for a sustainable solution and that the centre have started the re-contracting process with Pobal.

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