Charity Forced to Close Monaghan Child Development Centre for Children with Additional Needs
This week, Sensational Kids, an award-winning social enterprise and charitable organisation was forced to temporarily close the doors of its child development centre in Clones, County Monaghan, leaving many vulnerable children without essential services and three staff unemployed.
“It is with deep regret and a very heavy heart that we were forced to temporarily close our child development centre in Clones this week” says Sensational Kids CEO & Founder Karen Leigh. “Like many other non-profit organisations, we have been severely impacted operationally and financially by the unprecedented impact of the Covid-19 crisis.
Whilst we are currently unable to provide face to face therapy supports for children and families at our child development centres, Sensational Kids has been very innovative and responded quickly to the crisis. Our amazing team immediately recognised that many families and children still need our therapy support services and changed our service delivery model to deliver Virtual Care through a secure platform that allows healthcare providers to host virtual visits with clients over secure video, audio or chat, implementing more change in the space of two weeks than we would normally attempt in year. As well as that, our therapy team have put in long hours over the past few weeks to help support children and families by creating resources such as an online social story for children with autism to help with hand washing, online therapy videos with ideas about using Gym Balls and Theraputty at home and additional online resources on our website such as how to work Speech & Language Therapy Targets into Home Activities.
Like many other charities, Sensational Kids has been significantly impacted by the pandemic, with an unprecedented fall of over 80% in cashflows since the schools closed. The only way to provide online therapy supports was for all staff to avail of the Government’s Wage Subsidy Scheme, with staff agreeing to work for no more than the subsidy amount claimable from the scheme. We are so grateful to our staff who have agreed to pay cuts on the wage subsidy scheme in order to prioritise and maintain therapy services to the children we support. We simply don’t have enough funding to do any more” says Karen Leigh.
Whilst unable to provide face to face therapy at its child development centres, Sensational Kids is continuing to provide online virtual care supports such as Occupational Therapy, Speech & Language Therapy and Play Therapy through its therapy team, located in Kildare, West Cork & Mayo and up to last week, Monaghan.
The charity has run into a problem in accessing the wage subsidy scheme for its staff in Monaghan. Sensational Kids was recently donated the clinic to take over on 1st March by the previous owners of the clinic in Clones, Co Monaghan. Under The Terms of Wage Subsidy Scheme, employees on the scheme are deemed to be someone who was on the payroll on 29 February 2020 and the employer must, between 1 February 2020 and 15 March 2020, have made payroll submissions for payments to the employee to Revenue with pay-dates between 1 Feb 2020 and 29 Feb 2020 . Sensational Kids says “In this unusual situation, we explained to Revenue that we recently took over the clinic in Clones, Co Monaghan from the previous owners, whereby all three employees from that business transferred employment to Sensational Kids since 1st March. These employees transferred under TUPE regulations with the same terms and conditions prevailing. As the transfer of business was effective from 1 March 2020, these employees were not on the payroll of Sensational Kids at 29 February 2020. We expected that Revenue would understand the situation where one business transfers to another, but sadly, that was not the case. We were informed by Revenue that our employees in Monaghan could not avail of the wage subsidy scheme as they were not on our payroll on 29th February”
Without any government funding in place to support social enterprises and charities, like ourselves, who have experienced significant falls in cash flows caused by the Covid-19 crisis, we have been forced by the terms of the wage subsidy scheme to make the very difficult decision to temporarily close our centre in Monaghan, leaving three staff temporarily unemployed and many families and children with additional needs without essential services. Without any government funding, huge drops in cash flows, and normal overheads such as rent, phones, & insurance to be met, there is just not enough funding coming in to allow us to continue, despite the huge sacrifices that our staff are prepared to make to try to weather this storm. We have already been impacted financially by a drop of over €50,000 in income whilst having the same overheads to run our services, since the Covid-19 pandemic hit”.
Like many other charities and social enterprises, there is an urgent need for funding for the sector to allow us to continue to provide essential supports to communities in need”