“We are encouraged by the low numbers recorded in the sector which is reassuring. It is particularly reassuring for us as providers, for our staff, parents and importantly, for the children in our care as we continue to prioritise their safety in the interest of public health.
“The level of cases is testament to the hard work undertaken by providers and staff in implementing and strictly maintaining public health measures.
“We must also recognise the role of parents and families in supporting their creche, in following the guidelines and taking responsibility which has clearly contributed to the sector’s ability to limit the spread of infection at childcare centres across the country.
“In order to keep childcare facilities open and operating safely, many providers and their teams are going to great lengths to ensure strict adherence to the guidance. This is not without its challenges, particularly in our ability to ensure adequate staffing level to meet and manage the new requirements.
“To secure the adequate staffing levels needed to manage play-pods safely, there are two clear actions required. Firstly, we need to see the introduction of rapid Covid-19 testing for childcare professionals – we simply cannot afford for staff to be waiting to receive results, we need quick and definitive responses.
“Secondly, we need to address the issue of recruitment and retention in the sector – both in the immediate term and the longer term. We have limited ability to introduce additional staff support to help manage and maintain play-pods, and to ensure adequate distancing can be maintained.
“Staffing challenges in the sector are not new, but they have been exacerbated by the pandemic and it has now become more urgent than ever to find temporary, practical solutions to support staff in childcare facilities.”