Local childcare facilities will close if government plans for a new funding structure go ahead, local TD Denis Naughten warned this week. The new plans are to be introduced on January 1st, 2008. Under the new staffing grant scheme, only children whose parents are in receipt of a Social Welfare payment will be eligible for some financial support, however, they too will be faced with a significant bill on a weekly basis. ‘From talking to a number of groups throughout the constituency of Roscommon/South Leitrim up to 90 percent of children will not be eligible for any financial support because at least one parent is earning more than the Social Welfare cut-off point,’ explained Deputy Naughten. ‘This plan, if implemented, will no doubt lead to the closure of community childcare facilities coming on top of significant commercial rates from Roscommon County Council and ever changing HSE regulations which have further cost implications. ‘Childcare facilities in County Roscommon are facing annual rates bills of between €4,000 and €12,000 and this will have to be passed back to young families who are already struggling to cope with the increased costs of their mortgages. ‘As a parent I fully understand the impact that these costs will have on young families and I am urging the Government to reverse this decision which will have a direct impact on the education of pre-school children,’ concluded Denis Naughten.