A new plan to improve childcare services in Ireland could save working parents up to €4,500 a year, according to Chartered Accountants Ireland.
The body is warning that a mother-of-two on an average annual wage of €45,000 is currently paying around €24,000 a year for childcare.
It means she would be left with just €235 per week after tax and childcare fees – an amount that makes returning to the workforce a difficult economic proposition.
Chartered Accountants Ireland (CAI) President Sinead Donovan told Newstalk that a recent survey found that some 43% of working parents have reduced their hours or stopped working completely in order to look after their children.
“At a time where there is resource constraint and a fight for talent, to have 43% of members who want to work unable to participate in the workforce is a huge issue for everyone,” she said.
The CAI plan involves several 'concrete steps' aimed at making Ireland’s childcare system work better for both service providers and parents.
Central to the plan is a call to extend childcare subsidies to those using private childminders.
“Financially this could make working parents up to €4,500 a year better off, but it will also mean that working parents can get back into the working environment, which is going to be better for employers, for the economy and for the Exchequer returns in total,” she said.
Currently, unregistered childminders are not eligible for the same National Childcare Scheme (NCS) funding as creche places, which are highly limited and often difficult to secure.
According to CAI, extending the funding to childminders who are not registered with Tusla would give parents of up to 80,000 children easier access to subsidised childcare.
CAI is also urging the Government to streamline the funding process by:
- Reducing the administrative pressure on providers,
- Acknowledging and accounting for inflationary cost pressures
- Funding an appropriate and competitive level of pay for early-year educators.
The body is also calling for increased funding for the childcare sector as a whole and a campaign to increase awareness among parents of the supports that are already in place.