Local Fianna Fáil councillor Orla Leyden has taken the unusual step of writing to the Minister of State for Children, Brendan Smith TD asking him to review his decision to cut staffing grants to community childcare services and also his decision to introduce a new subvention scheme for childcare places. She has branded the new subvention ‘an insult to the commitment of the communities that organised and continue to run these facilities.’ Cllr. Leyden presented her letter to the Minister at a meeting with Fianna Fáil public representatives on Monday last, October 15th. In the letter she stated, ‘I am asking that you would immediately consult with the community and voluntary childcare sector and the county childcare committee about this matter in order that you will fully understand the negative impact that this decision will have on the twenty community childcare groups throughout County Roscommon.’ She went on to outline her three greatest concerns in relation to the decision. ‘This new scheme will force many parents and women in particular, out of the workplace due to the higher cost of childcare. Many women work part time through job sharing etc. in order to care of young children pre-school and school age. This scheme will mean that it will no longer be worthwhile financially for a woman with, for example, two young children, to work part-time as the cost of childcare will be too great.’ Secondly, she said that in some rural areas, only a small number of parents would meet the new criteria and as a result many new centres could face closure. ‘This new subvention scheme is a retrograde step and an insult to the commitment of the communities that organised and continue to run these facilities.’ Her third point related to the benefits to the child of pre-school education and she said that the children of parents on low incomes would miss out on pre-school education and so would become the new disadvantaged. ‘The National Childcare strategy points to the benefits of early childhood education and notes that ‘pre-school education leads to immediate, measurable gains in educational and social development. ‘We need to continue to strive for improvements: improved maternity benefits, improved parental leave for both parents, improvement in the availability and affordability of childcare and improvement in our education system through the introduction of a national pre-school education system. I ask you Minister Smith to review your decision to cut staffing grants to community childcare services and review your decision to introduce a new subvention scheme for childcare places in the interest of the country’s children,’ concluded Cllr. Leyden.