What a strange year, we are living through. As I write this, the uncertainty continues with Covid-19 and the restrictions to the way we live our lives. Who would have thought as we listened to reports in January of a mysterious virus in Wuhan, that it would impact our lives so profoundly.
We held our virtual AGM by Zoom in September. It was very different from what we are used to but I think those members in attendance enjoyed the meeting. It was good to see Minister O’Gorman’s message to childminders on the day.
The government published the “National Framework for Living with Covid-19” in September. This plan deals with the various levels and measures to be taken depending on prevalence of the virus. It is interesting that at all levels of the plan, the intention is that childcare and education remain open. There seems to be a realisation that childcare is an essential service which allows our economy to function.
I hope you all are doing ok in these worrying times. I want to thank all the staff of Childminding Ireland for all their support and guidance during the last few months. As a childminder, it is extremely challenging to open your door when we are all told to restrict our interactions with others. The fact that we care for children in our homes adds to the responsibility and the daily challenges posed by working through a global pandemic. I would like to compliment everyone who has worked through lockdown, and those who have re-opened at various stages over the last few months.
For many of us, children have not returned for various reasons such as parents working from home, unemployment as a result of closures in the hospitality sector, and those who have underlying conditions and must restrict their movements. Parents have cut back hours and days they require our services. This has had a major impact on our incomes. We have not had the benefit of subsidy schemes like other sectors over the last number of months. The TWSS is paid to employers to part fund their payroll. This option is not available to us. PUP was introduced to support those who were impacted by the restrictions placed on us by Covid-19. I feel we should be able to receive some support as we work on reduced incomes directly caused by this pandemic and it now seems that we may be able to avail of a PUP top-up depending on our own personal circumstances (see Sector Update for more details).
I would like to thank you, the members for your constant support to each other on our Facebook Members Forum. It is amazing to see how everyone can help, encourage, advise and just be there for each other. It has been an invaluable resource over the last few months.