Ireland’s soaring childcare costs mean it is “just not worth your while” for many parents to return to work until their children start school.
A Newstalk survey published today shows that childcare costs in Dublin have jumped 20% in the past four years – with parents now paying an average of €1,276 a month.
Parents in Wicklow (€928) and Cork (€857) are paying the next highest fees in the country – while those in Longford are paying the cheapest rates (€613).
On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, Newstalk reporter Mairead Cleary spoke to parents in Dublin about their experiences sourcing childcare.
“Availability was really tough,” said one mother.
“I’m ending up going back to work later than I would have liked to just because I couldn’t get him a place in a creche.
“It is the same price as my mortgage – so now I’m paying basically a double mortgage.”
Another said things get harder when you are not looking for full-time care.
“It’s just really expensive,” she said. “I work part-time as well.”
“Definitely, at this age before they go to school and that, if you’re working kind of 9-5 days it is very hard to find a childcare provider that will only do two or three days if that’s what you want.”
Asked whether it would be feasible for her to return to work if she had more than one pre-school child she said: “No, definitely not.”
“When they get to school it’s different because some of the schools do have the wrap-around service, but when you have two or three - a little new-born and one in playschool or that - and you need to work full-time? No, it’s just not worth your while.”
Meanwhile, Laura Erskine, owner of consultancy firm ‘The Parenting Experts,’ said the subsidies offered to parents are “just paltry”.
She said successive Governments have failed to address the issue.
“It doesn’t change,” she said. “It’s constantly a second mortgage.”
“We’ve had numerous governments in power over the last ten years, all of them have promised to reduce the cost of childcare for parents and also to reform the system.
“It seems they have put all of the money into creating an IT programme to administer childcare subsidies to creches rather than to parents.
“The actual subsidies are meaningless. I have a three-year-old in creche. She is in there full-time and the subsidy I get from the government is €90 per month.
“That is just paltry when it comes to the actual cost of childcare which is over €1,300 and again that is paid directly to the creche.”
She said it is particularly difficult for parents to source part-time childcare.
“For lots of parents who are now working in a remote hybrid scheme and want to have their children maybe part-time in creche or part-time minded by a childminder coming into the home, it is actually really difficult to get part-time places in creche and then that subsidy doesn’t apply to you employing your own private childcare in the home.
“Lots more still needs to be done by the Government. The costs are just rising and unfortunately, they are rising at the same time as out cost of living.”
You can listen back to Mairead’s full report here: