Irish parents on childcare abroad: ‘We pay €90 per month and child allowance is €130’
‘I took 12 months paid parental leave, my husband took six months ... childcare is €90 per month ages 3-6 but child allowance is €130’
A new report revealed Ireland's childcare supports compare very poorly with many other countries. According to the study, in Ireland cost was more likely to be a factor in childcare access than in some other countries. We asked Irish parents living abroad about their experiences accessing childcare and how the system differed from Ireland. Here are a selection of the responses from around the world:
Ruth-Ann Shields in Sweden: ‘I took 12 months paid parental leave, my husband took six months’
Preschool is available from 12 months. Up to that point parental leave is available. Most children don’t start preschool until 18 months. I took 12 months paid parental leave, my husband took six months , and we overlapped for about six weeks. The service runs from 7am to 5pm and is flexible within those times. If you work shifts there are also childcare services to cover that. It is about €130 per month until age of three and then €90 per month from ages three to six. Child allowance is €130 per month so really it’s free. All organic food and nappies are provided at preschool for free. External activities, such as trips to theatre, forest excursions and more, are also free. We are so unbelievably lucky to live here with small kids.
Fiona Salter-Townshend in Vienna, Austria: ‘I wish my brother had access to this level of quality childcare in Dublin’
I live in Vienna and have four children. Childcare is heavily subsidised by the city of Vienna and the governing parties at city level have largely ensured that parents have very good access. The principle is that everyone has a right to childcare. The nursery age system is a combination of city-run and private creches, childminders and kindergartens with the city authorities regularly inspecting all providers as a condition for the subsidies. City-run care is actually free of cost for parents except for food, though not everyone will be able to get a place there. Private nurseries are funded to the tune of several hundred euros per child so I only pay €175 per month plus food for my three year old to go to a nursery where they have two teachers for a maximum of 14 children. This is open from 7.30am to 3.30pm. City-run providers have much longer hours though parents may have to prove working times to avail of the later times. My other children already go to school and the seven year old can avail of childcare at 7.15am before the 8am school start free of charge. This service is standard in Vienna. His “Hort” provides after-school childcare costs €290 per month including food and homework supervision. It closes at 5.30pm from Monday to Thursday, and 4pm on Fridays. I wish my brother had access to this level of quality childcare in Dublin at such affordable rates.
Childcare was not too difficult once I found the right provider for us. But I did view and speak to some crazy providers, and checked online for their licence and accreditation and compliance. It is public record if a provider has a violation. It is $880(€602) for a full time minder per child. We pay $135 (€93) a month for preschool for our two children. It works quite well here. We can claim back some of the daycare costs on our taxes. We pay $600 (€411) deposit that is kept on hold until we finish care. Quebec has a $25 (€17) a day daycare scheme that they are piloting in our province, but those daycares are full and don’t even accept on a waiting list because that’s full too. No free preschool here like Ireland. Minders have to have insurance, accreditations, education and pay taxes on their income. There’s no cash option. We don’t have grandparents to do drop offs or pick ups from preschool, but our preschool teacher is a fully qualified primary school teacher We have programmes here that are free for special needs or speech delay minor behavioural issues, but also high achievers . Which is a nice break for parents if they can get their kids into those.
John Sherlock in Germany: ‘Parental leave is three years to be divided between two parents’
I live with my wife and two children in Mainz, Germany. Our first child was born in 2014. We went about inquiring what was available and how affordable it would be. Our experience was surprisingly good. Parental leave in Germany, by comparison to Ireland, is very generous. We could take three years to be divided between the two parents as it suits, with the only the first year paid at a percentage of the salary. It gave us breathing room to sort the balance between home and working life. The first two years of childcare are not fully covered, because usually a parent is on leave to mind the child. However, if the parents work part-time or go back full-time, the cost of pre-kindergarten care with a day nanny is covered to a certain percentage. In our experience, three quarters of the cost is covered, which cutting the costs to a very manageable level. For example, for one child three to four hours a day for five days coming in at an average of about €150 per month. The quality of care with the day nanny is excellent. It took a bit of ringing around to find someone, and above all to find someone registered with the state so that the state would cover a portion of the costs. However, our second born is now at the same day care nanny, which followed as a matter of course once we registered early enough. From the age of two years old, every child in Rheinland-Pfalz is entitled by law to a free child care place either with a day nanny or, in most cases, in kindergarten. This cuts the cost of child care to almost nothing. Our experience is that the kindergarten charges a monthly fee of €12 (yes, €12) to cover running costs. Running costs include leaflets, weekly breakfast buffet and outing costs such like bus tickets. A kindergarten place is generally available - for example the suburb we live in has about 6500 people with four kindergarten options each taking between 100 to 150 children. The stress of childcare is minimal. By comparison to Ireland we find the system for child care excellent. Systems are in place to make it affordable, or in the most case practically free. The quality of care and attention the children get, in supporting their development is also very reassuring. An open and honest approach on the part of the kindergarten, which gives us as parents total peace of mind. The parents can, if they wish, accompany their child for a day in the kindergarten to experience what the day entails. Interestingly the kindergarten offers a wide variety of options through an open learning concept. For example, a room for dressing up and role play, or a quiet reading room, or if the child prefers a room for art and craft. Also on offer is a room for discovery and nature, and of course a separate area for those aged two or three years old with special attention to this age group needs including separate quiet sleeping area. Our experience of child care in the small suburb of Mainz has exceeded all expectations both in quality of care and the (lack of) cost.
Mark Chearnley in Sweden and Norway: ‘Childcare in both countries was excellent’
All four of my children have received childcare abroad. The first two (both boys) got it in Sweden where it’s called “Dagis”. I have to say it was excellent. It wasn’t seen as a case of could you get childcare, but where you had the option of placing your kids. Later on my two daughters received a similar receptive system in Norway where they thrived in “Barnehage” and learnt Norwegian (we speak English and Thai at home) within weeks from one year old onwards. I’ve never understood the hand wringing that is the debate on proper childcare in Ireland or the UK. Many countries in the developed world take it for granted.
Jackie Donohoe in Istanbul, Turkey: ‘Most daycares/ preschools prices range between €300 to €500 per month’
In Istanbul preschool education is big business. You can find a range of different preschool franchises to meet everyone’s needs. You can decide between, full day programmes, half day programmes or play group, which is usually two hours. Most children in Turkey do not start preschool education until they are three-years-old. However, there are daycares available for working parents, but the majority of parents prefer to keep their children at home with a nanny until they are three. We selected a Montessori school for my child. She attends a half day programme from 9am - 1pm. The school provides breakfast, a morning fruit snack and a hot meal at 12.30pm. We pay €380 (including food) per month (half day programme five days per week). Most daycares and preschools prices range between €300 to €500 per month for full day programme from 8am to 5pm. All schools in Turkey provide breakfast and a hot meal at lunch. Every private daycare or preschool in Istanbul has a child’s psychological guidance counsellor available to support both children and parents with an social emotional, behavior or learning difficulties.