Why is childcare so expensive in Ireland?

Little Learners Preschool and Afterschool | AIBF

Irish families typically pay a whopping €184 a week – per child – for childcare according to the annual early years sector profile report – released in May of this year.

That means, on average, you’re looking at almost €810 a month – and about €9,340 euro a year on the basis of the child attending for 50 weeks per year.

Yet Ireland’s early years workforce of 30,000 (mostly women) remains underpaid – the average childcare/early years educator salary is €24,000 a year.

We asked All-Star Early Years expert Nessa McNamara why costs are so high for parents yet wages remain so low for carers…

“The childcare industry in Ireland is broken,” she told the All-Ireland Business Times. “It’s not serving the parents doesn’t serve the providers and it doesn’t serve the children.”

“Children are typically in childcare longer than the average person works – making it a very staff-heavy business.”

“But the key factor is the fact that childcare is one of our most heavily regulated industries – which makes it incredibly expensive.”

“The core problem is one of overregulation as well as underfunding and a lack of Government support”, she added.

While funding remains a key issue for childcare providers, Nessa says there is also a need to get back to basics and strip back the layers of stringent and costly regulations that providers have to adhere to.

“There isn’t a scale that measures care, love, support, and the ability to nurture a child with the confidence they need to grow up content and happy,” she said.

“So, instead what gets measured instead is how often you clean the toilets and the temperature in the room.”

Pictured above from left: AIBF CEO Elaine and Nessa McNamara, Principal of Little Learners Preschool and Afterschool.

“And although we can’t be against rules and regulations, (because there’s actually a kernel of sense at the back of every regulation) too much policing takes the heart out of something that should be all heart and love and fun.”

“Above all, we need to start making early years education an attractive industry for people to want to get into. That means decent wages and conditions for those on the frontlines and affordable prices for families and parents”.

Little Learners recently achieved Business All-Star Accreditation for the 5th consecutive year, in recognition of their contribution to quality and standards in the early years sector.

The preschool was named Best in Class Early Years Education Centre 2022 by the All-Ireland Business Foundation.

Reacting to the accolade, Nessa McNamara said: “I am proud to accept the accolade of Best in Class Early Years Education Centre 2022. The team continue to go above and beyond for our little learners and this achievement underlines the pride we take in our work and the joy we find in our vocation. We are proud to display the AIBF Marque as a symbol of trust and quality.” 

The Government has said that the cutting of childcare costs for parents will be one of its priorities in October’s Budget.

let’s hope we can finance a service that works for children, parents, early years, educators and providers.

To learn more about Little Learners Preschool and Afterschool, visit their All-Star showcase page here.