Report On Childcare Costs Published

New data on the cost of early learning and care and school-age childcare to families in Ireland has been published by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone.

The publication of this information, which is drawn from almost 4,000 early learning and care and school age childcare services located around the country, seeks to provide parents with information, on the average cost for early learning and care and school-age childcare in their local area according to their child's age. It highlights major variations across the country.

The information reveals that the average fee for full-time provision now stands at €184 per week - an increase of 3.6% since last year. The lowest full-time fees, for children 2-3 years old, were recorded in Co Carlow at €148 per week, with the highest full-time fees recorded in Dublin (Dun Laoghaire Rathdown), at €251 per week for children.

Today's publication coincides with final preparations for the introduction of the landmark National Childcare Scheme (NCS). This will introduce considerable enhancements to State supported early learning and care and school-age childcare from later this year.

The National Childcare Scheme is the first ever statutory entitlement to financial support for early learning and care and school-age childcare in Ireland. It aims to improve outcomes for children, reduce child poverty and tangibly reduce the cost of quality early learning and care and school-age childcare for thousands of families across Ireland. Importantly, it will also provide a robust and flexible platform for future investment. The OECD Faces of Joblessness Report has said it will significantly improve costs to parents in Ireland.

Speaking about the data being published today, Minister Zappone said: "A key priority for me as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs is to reduce the cost of high-quality early learning and care and school-age childcare to parents and bring it into line with EU norms.

"Despite record investment in early learning and care and school-age childcare – with 117% increase in investment over the past four consecutive Budgets – the cost to families of early learning and care and school-age childcare remains higher in Ireland than in other OECD countries – with wide variation in fees across the country. Staff costs account, on average, for approximately 70% of services' costs. We know that the average hourly rate for staff in the sector is just over €12.55 and the average hourly rate for Early Years Assistant is €11.44. As the State is not the employer, my Department does not pay the wages of staff working in early learning and care settings. A Labour Court Sectoral Employment Order (SEO) is the most viable mechanism to improve pay and conditions. I have repeatedly expressed support for an SEO and my Department is ready to co-operate with such a process when it is under way. I have engaged and will continue to engage with SIPTU on this issue.

"The introduction of the National Childcare Scheme will add to supports provided to parents over the last four years, for example the second year of the preschool scheme, and targeted subsidies of up to €145 per child per week. It will alleviate the burden on parents further, but more needs to be done. Efforts to address affordability will continue. This will be backed by the Government pledge, set out in the First 5 Strategy, to at least double the investment in early learning and care and school-age childcare by 2028.

"I recently announced plans to develop a new Funding Model for early learning and care and school-age childcare. This Funding Model will be a critical mechanism to ensure that the State leverages maximum value from that additional investment. As Minister I want to see improvements in terms of affordability for parents and the quality of service offered to children. This is highly dependent on a valued workforce. As part of its work, the Funding Model Expert Group will explore mechanisms to control the fees charged to parents, recognising that at present my Department has limited powers to do this.

"In the meantime, I urge parents to use this data to inform themselves of what they should expect to pay for early learning and care and school-age childcare in their area, and to check out www.ncs.gov.ie to see what subsidy they may be eligible for under the National Childcare Scheme."

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