Vaccination uderway but childcare workers are near the bottom of the list
Childcare staff should be prioritised in the Covid-19 vaccine programme according to the Family Resource Centres National Forum (FRCNF) which as called on Laois TDs to get behind their campaign.
The national representative body for Family Resource Centres (FRCs) in Ireland, says the Covid-19 vaccine priority rollout includes childcare and early years educators in group 11 out of 15. The Forum wants childcare workers to be move up the queue to be vaccinated a the same time as healthcare workers not in direct patient contact.
The Family Resource Centre Programme is the largest community-based family support programme in Ireland. Through a network of 121 FRCs, it employs over 600 childcare staff who care for 2,500 children. There are two FRCs based in Laois – one in Portlaoise, and one in Mountmellick.
Commenting today, Clare Cashman, Chair of the FRCNF, said: “Today we are calling on local Laois 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.
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“Childcare and early years practitioners – in Laois, 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,” she said.
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.
The Family Resource Centre programme has been in operation for over 25 yearsl. It is funded by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.