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'The sector is in real crisis': New report reveals the cost of providing childcare

Early Childhood Ireland found that Irish families are spending 35% of their yearly income on care.

Image: Dominic Lipinski/PA

THE IRISH CHILDCARE industry needs immediate investment if it is to become affordable for parents and rewarding for staff, a new study has found.

Early Childhood Ireland (ECI), a lobby group for childcare providers, this afternoon launched a new report which found that the average Irish childcare business is being run on a breakeven basis.

According to ECI boss Teresa Heeney, the average cost of childcare here accounts for 35% of household income, whereas across the EU, childcare costs between 10-13% of a family’s income.

High price

Despite the high cost of care, the report found that, even when a profit is generated by a facility, it is often too little to meet the cost of re-investment in the business.

Heeney said: “The childcare sector in Ireland is in real crisis in terms of recruiting staff and keeping them and we’re seeing this as a direct result of low pay, low morale and an ever higher administrative burden.

As a result we are losing great people from the sector and this will have a negative effect on the quality experience for children and the sustainability of services which are at breaking point.

Minimum wage 

Heeney added that parents regularly struggle to pay for their childcare and that the industry needs to move in a new direction to benefit parents and to give workers a real career.

She added: “This report highlights the fractured system that employs professional staff on the basis of the minimum wage, that sees services struggling to stay open and to be sustainable and a cost structure for the care of Under 3’s and afterschool which is the highest in Europe for parents.”

The ECI has recommended the introduction of childcare subsidy for under 3s as a priority.

They are also urging the Government to address pay in the sector and agree to recognised salary scales for early years educators.

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