‘It’s not financial’: IT Tallaght refuses to say why campus créche failed to meet criteria

‘It’s not financial’: IT Tallaght refuses to say why campus créche failed to meet criteria

By Aura McMenamin

IT Tallaght say the decision to close the Fledglings créche is not a financial one, but has refused to state why Fledglings failed to meet minimum criteria for the tendering process.

Over 30 full and part-time students are scrambling to find affordable childcare in the wake of the college’s decision to close the subsidised on-campus créche earlier this month.

ITT Students

Parents and children, Student Union sabbaticals, Fledglings staff and local politicians attended a meeting in IT Tallaght to discuss the situation this afternoon.

According to Sinn Fein TD Sean Crowe, ITT President Thomas Stone asserted the reason for not giving the tender to a childcare provided was ‘not financial’.

Deputy Crowe relayed what Mr Stone told him: “[Mr Stone] shared his concerns about the closure of the créche. He said that he didn’t want to see it closing. There were some suggesting that it may be down to saving money and he said that it was nothing to do with that.

“He said he was conscious that there were a number of students coming in this year that needed that creche facility and it was vital for their education and their children’s education.”

Deputy Crowe said he believed the reality is that all of the parties that tendered for the project in the college didn’t meet the criteria on that day and that it could have been down to ‘forms being filled out incorrectly’.

The college will open the tendering process again in August, however, this means that there won’t be a childcare provider until January 2018.

Echo.ie spoke to students last week following the news of the closure. One week later, they are no closer to finding childcare.

Father-of-one Gary said: “I was paying €440 a month for the créche, which is nothing compared to what some people were paying.

“I’ve looked. I’ve been ringing two or three créches, I have emailed people, I’ve door-stepped them. There’s no space. If we don’t get that créche open, we’re in trouble.”

The sports science student said that he would be forced to stay at home with his son without the availability of a créche in two months.

Staff at Fledglings are adamant that they do meet criteria.

The college has so far refused to state what that failing in criteria was, despite the créche operating there for seven years, with children as young as six months old having attended.

Following last week’s meeting in the SU offices, college officials emailed parents saying that they had decided to revert their decision to limit the Childcare Assistance Fund (CAF) to only one child.

The Childcare Assistance Fund provides financial support to parents who are fulltime IT Tallaght students with children in a crèche or registered childminder. College officials announced earlier in the year that only one child would be provided for.

SU Welfare Officer Isabelle Delaney said this too was flawed: “Incoming students (first year students) won’t be allowed this privilege. We’re not entirely sure why.

Jones said: “Because students have this limited amount of time to find a childcare provider, all these places are filled up really fast.

“It’s a privilege to have the créche. It’s convenient for students and it’s nice for the parents to know that their children are safe and close by, whereas now it’s uncertain.

Jones and her fellow sabbaticals have committed themselves to supporting parents and overturning the college’s decision. She said: “Because I am the welfare officer, I am in touch with the frustration that everyone’s feeling.”