Families Paying Up To €28,000 A Year For Childcare

Two-child families in Ireland are paying as much as €28,000 a year for childcare — but prices nationwide are not enough to cover the real costs of quality care.

A new survey by the National Children’s Nurseries Association (NCNA) shows that it costs an average of €177 per week to place a child full-time in a pre-school creche, but there is a wide discrepancy between prices in different areas.

Co Galway has some of the highest prices, at €208 for a toddler and €218 for a baby. In Dublin the cost of one childcare place averages €206 per week and the top price being charged is €276 a week in one south County Dublin creche — or close to €14,000 a year per child.

The NCNA annual survey draws on figures submitted by its 600 affiliated creches around the country.

For community creches — which are currently under threat from Government funding changes — the price is lower: they cost as little as €40 a week in north Dublin and Galway city, but rise as high as €184 in Dublin 9 and €235 for a baby place in Co Meath.

However, the true cost of providing full-time childcare that meets all the regulatory standards is €227 per child per week — or €50 more than the average price paid by parents — a study for the NCNA by consultancy firm Deloitte has said.

This is based on meeting recommended staffing and space requirements and paying the modest childcare salaries called for by the Government-funded BCCN network. But that price does not include any profit margin, according to Deloitte.

Variations in rent could result in slightly lower costs in some counties, but it would still be hard to provide a place for less than €200, and this would rise to €243 a week in expensive Dublin suburbs, said Deloitte partner David O’Flanagan.

The NCNA called for tax credits for parents to help them meet childcare costs, and for VAT and rates on childcare facilities to be abolished — in line with the situation in primary schools — as part of the pre-Budget submission launched by the organisation yesterday.

The NCNA also called for an annual subvention for each child up to the age of six to be targeted at disadvantaged families, which would replace the current supplement of €1,000 a year for every child, regardless of need.

“Many children now spend 11 hours a day in childcare. Much as we might not like that, it is the truth and it is incumbent on us to ensure that it is a good experience for these children,” said acting director Teresa Heeney.

Parents were angry at the high prices they had to pay for childcare from their after-tax incomes, she said, but the even higher true costs revealed by Deloite meant that staff wages were being squeezed and owner-run creches were being forced to close, as larger chains with economies of scale were increasingly dominant.

The NCNA survey also reveals that more than 70pc of childcare staff earn less than €22,000 a year, with the bulk of them earning between €14,000 and €22,000.