Half the children are three years waiting for a childcare space
FINDING a childcare place is not easy and even more difficult in areas like Cherry Orchard – which has a much younger population than Dublin City, according to the 2016 Census.
Cherry Orchard Community Childcare, which caters for 118 children, from seven/eight months up to 10-years, have a current waiting list of 150.
“Even today, we had five calls looking for a place for a baby,” said Rachel Galvin, centre manager, as she gives The Echo a tour of the facility, which was opened in 2010 after the groundwork was put in by local people.
“Half the children in Ballyfermot and Cherry Orchard are three years waiting for a place.”
The numbers are stark, and the centre is open 50 weeks a year to cater for demand.
“We are open except for Christmas and Easter weeks, we have summer camps, it is busy all year,” said Rachel.
Although Rachel cites a number of other local childcare places, including the after-school care at St Ultan’s primary school, this is a young area with multiple new housing developments being built or on the way, hence the need for additional services.
In line with this, the centre are being supported by Dublin City Council in plans for a 208sqm single-storey extension to the south of the existing childcare facility containing additional classrooms and associated service spaces.
“We are hoping the extension will provide us with an extra 24 spaces for kids,” said Rachel.
“A lot of services just provide the free three childcare hours per week. We follow the HS (HighScope) curriculum, which is proven a huge success.”
The centre is a non-profit organisation and registered charity, managed by a voluntary board of management, which includes members of the local community.
Containing eight classrooms, two outdoor areas and a sensory room, there are 35 staff, two CE staff and students from TUD, to help administer state of the art care for children, from early morning to after-school classes.
Some of the land beside the centre is zoned for the Local Area Plan, and they managed to secure a grant from the council for planning.
“It could help us bring in two new classroom and we are hoping to incorporate a therapy room, maybe link in with occupational therapists. We don’t know yet for sure but the options are there,” said Rachel.
Guidelines require one staff member for every three babies under the age of one, and one staff for five, when the youngsters are over the age of one.
“Early intervention is better for everybody and the family – we do a lot of work with Tulsa as well. In disadvantaged areas lacking services, you need to reach kids early.”