Hopes that preschool service on the north side can be restored after the publication of the tender

A tender document inviting interested parties to submit business plans to operate a pre-school service from the former Farranree Stepping Stones site has been published.

Cork City Childcare launched the tender on Wednesday seeking expressions of interest to provide a part-time nursery school offering the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) program at 98A Knockpogue Avenue.

The document states that all business plans will be required to provide “minimum one session service for 37 children” and that a “key priority” for the tender “will be to demonstrate a strong community ethos and plans to engage and collaborate with local stakeholders.”

The service is currently registered in Tusla to provide child care for children between the ages of two and six.

Cork City Childcare said arrangements will be put in place by relevant stakeholders to allow the successful tenderer to operate a childcare service for a period of three years, after which the arrangement would be reconsidered.

Closure of the center

Earlier this month, parents of children at Stepping Stones Nursery School received a letter telling them the school would not reopen in August, citing funding issues and difficulties maintaining a management board as reasons for the decision.

A small protest against the decision took place outside the school last week, attended by parents, staff and politicians.

Speaking to The Echo, Tony Fitzgerald, Fianna Fáil councilor for the city’s northwest quarter, welcomed the release of the tender.

“The children and their families were at the heart of this service reorganization challenge and I would like to thank everyone who worked hard behind the scenes so that the children could go to preschool after the summer.

“While there is a lot of work to be done to open the centre, there is an abundance of goodwill and expertise to provide service,” he said.

Hopes service will reopen in September

Speaking last week, Sinn Féin TD for Cork North Central, Thomas Gould said he hoped any potential new management who could take over the school would retain pre-school staff who have just been made redundant, a point echoed by the Socialist Party TD for Cork North Central, Mick Barry.

Mr Gould said that although the reopening of the nursery school was “not yet out of date”, he understood that a “number of providers” had expressed interest in running an on-site service.

Cork City Childcare said the service was expected to reopen for September 2022.

“We would like to thank the Farranree Stepping Stones Board of Directors and other stakeholders for helping us facilitate this RFP and find a child care provider for the Farranree area,” says also the organization in the tender document.

The deadline for submitting proposals is Wednesday, August 10 at 5 p.m.

For more information see: www.activelink.ie/vacancies/tenders/92882-cork-city-childcare-invitation-to-tender.

Jacob L. Thornton