Parents paying nearly €800 monthly per child in childcare, Govt report finds

PARENTS ARE PAYING on average nearly €800 per month per child for childcare, a new Government report has found. 

The Annual Early Years Sector Profile Report for 2020/21 published today finds that the average weekly fee nationally per child for full day childcare is €186.84.

For part-time childcare it was €110.92 and for sessional is €74.20.

The reports states that fees for all types of provision remained almost the same with less than a 0.5% increases for all types of care compared to 2019/20.

The location and type of service continued to have a “substantial impact” on fees charged, the report states. 

Average weekly fees charged by private providers in 2020/21 were 10% higher for full day care, 24% higher for part-time care and 16% higher for sessional care compared to community providers.

Higher fees in ‘affluent areas’

Average fees were higher in services located in urban areas – 10% higher for full day care, 9% higher for part-time provision and 6% higher for sessional care.

In addition, services located in more affluent areas charged higher fees.

The full day fees in affluent areas were 27% higher than those in the locations classified as disadvantaged, indicating that local socio-economic situations also influence the setting of fees.  

As in previous years, the report states the most expensive fees were charged for babies up to 1 year (€192.06 for full day care and €117.97 for part-time care), while fees for children aged between 5+ to 6 years was the lowest at €178.64 for full day care and €107.91 for part-time care. 

The Journal reported last month that the Government is planning to focus on reducing the rocketing cost of childcare in the Budget in October. 

This year’s Budget will “be hopefully more about helping parents with the actual costs,” one person with knowledge of the situation told The Journal. 

It follows attempts in last year’s Budget to increase wages for staff in the sector. 

The Government has already rolled out two package of measures to help ease the rising cost of living, but there are fears that tinkering around the edges could make inflationary matters worse. 

One way of attempting to put more money in people’s pockets is through increasing State supports and reducing the cost of services. 

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said previously that increased subsidies should be used to reduce the cost of childcare “considerably” for parents. 

Core funding

Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman speaking about the publication of today’s report said the announcement of a new core funding stream for services worth over €221 million will improve quality by supporting better pay and conditions for the workforce, improve affordability for parents by ensuring that fees do not increase. 

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Those in Government circles acknowledge that pay continues to be an issue for the sector, with the average hourly wage for early years assistants is €12.10 per hour, which 2% higher than in 2019/20.

A total of 104,612 children benefited from the Early Childhood Care and Education Programme (ECCE) programme in 2020/21, a scheme which provides universal two-year pre-school programme available to all children within the eligible age range.

Currently the National Childcare Scheme currently provides financial support to help parents to meet the costs of early learning and childcare.

Universal subsidies are available for all children under three years of age, giving up to €1,170 to parents towards the the cost of childcare, regardless of income.

Further targeted subsidies are available for children aged six months to 15 years old, but vary depending on your income, your child’s age, and whether you are working or studying.

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