CSI calls for enhanced prioritisation of Early Year practitioners in vaccine rollout

January 05, 2021

Childhood Services Ireland (CSI), the Ibec group that represents the Early Years sector in Ireland, has called on Government to give greater priority in the national vaccine roll-out campaign to Early Years practitioners so that they can receive the vaccination earlier than currently scheduled.  CSI say that an outbreak within services in the Early Years sector would be immensely damaging to the nationwide efforts to manage the public health crisis. 

CSI Director Darragh Whelan said: “As the Covid pandemic is intensifying and there is a growing likelihood that schools may not re-open this Monday, 11 January 2021, the crucial role Early Years providers play in managing this public health crisis is more evident than ever. However, in opening services, Early Years providers operate with an inevitable amount of risk. 

“The health and safety of children and staff is an absolute priority. Facilitating vaccinations at an earlier time would provide significant reassurances to parents and staff that sufficient protective measures have been taken. 

“CSI fully supports the need to provide care to the children of frontline and essential workers and vulnerable children. However, we request that if school closures continue beyond 11th January 2021, the Government must give a clear directive that care is to be given to this cohort of children. We would support the continued alignment of the preschool ECCE scheme with schools, as this will reduce the number of children in attendance during this period.” 

As services continue to be operationally impacted by prioritising vulnerable children, and children of front-line and essential workers, CSI have also raised their concerns to Government with regards security of funding.  

Mr. Whelan continued: “CSI firmly believe that providers should not be financially impacted through funding restrictions or penalised financially for adhering to public health guidance and for taking responsible actions in operating at reduced capacity with prioritised families. Given that services remaining open will be doing so at a significant reduction in occupancy, it is crucial that all funding schemes remain in place, including the ECCE and EWSS, and adequate funding is provided to account for any occupancy reduction.”