The Minister chaired a meeting of the Advisory Group on re-opening of early learning and care and school-age service on Tuesday afternoon.
The Minister, Department and Advisory Group understand the necessity to provide ongoing information on this work and set out some updates below.
Survey and Call for Submissions
In order to capture key data to inform planning for the re-opening, the Department is planning a phone survey of providers. With the support of Pobal and Better Start, a survey will first be administered to providers that normally operate in July and August. A survey to remaining providers will follow thereafter. Calls to providers that normally operate in July and August will begin in the week commencing 25 May. In order to support providers to gather the information they may need to participate in this phone survey, a copy of the survey is attached
With the purpose of obtaining the views of the sector on the re-opening of services, the Department is also issuing a Call for Submissions to providers and practitioners. A link to this Call for Submissions will be circulated to you in the coming days.
This will provide the Department with important and up to date information regarding services and will inform re-opening plans. Therefore, your participation is strongly encouraged and appreciated.
Advisory Group and Provider Reference Group
Acknowledging the expertise and experience of the sectoral representatives on the Advisory Group, the Minister is proposing to supplement this with a provider reference group, which will include representatives of other groups not on the Advisory Group. It is hoped to organise a meeting of the Reference Group next week.
We would encourage providers and practitioners to feed in through the sector representatives on the Advisory Group to ensure your concerns and solutions are brought forward. Representation is via the Association of Childhood Professionals (ACP), the National Childhood Network (NCN), the National Forum for Community Childcare Services, Seas Suas (an organisation representing independent providers), Early Childhood Ireland (ECI), Plé (an organisation representing higher education institutions in early childhood studies), SIPTU and Childminding Ireland.
A draft work plan covering all the work that is required to facilitate the 29 June reopening and 20 July expansion was presented to the Advisory Group and working groups are being established to progress initial work streams within set timelines.
Public health advice
Public Health advice is beginning to be received and the Department should be in a position to make some guidance available in the coming days.
The Minister and the Department will continue to work with sector representatives and are grateful to the Advisory Group for their commitment to solutions focussed engagement on this matter.
The Department has asked funded organisations to ensure that they are available to support you with return to work preparations. In particular, City and County Childcare Committees will act as a local support hub and focus on reopening supports. Early Childhood Ireland will focus on HR supports for all providers. Childminding Ireland will engage and support childminders specifically. Other support organisations are operating as normal and contributing to resource development.
We would appreciate if you would share this correspondence with your employees.