How much are you paying for childcare? Fees of more than €308 per week revealed

Average price of full-time daycare is up by 2.2 per cent, or almost €4 a week, report finds

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone. File photograph: Garrett White/Collins

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone. File photograph: Garrett White/Collins

 

Parents in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown area of Dublin are paying up to €308 per week for one child in full-time day-care, new figures reveal.

The Dublin suburb tops the list of childcare fees with the average now at €233.26 per week, a rise of €4.92 from a year ago, according to the largest ever survey of early years services.

The Early Years Sector Profile Report 2017/2018 covers the first year since all families became entitled to some State subsidy when using full-time, registered care for children aged up to six.

The average weekly fee is lowest in Longford, standing at €146.56, an annual fall of €4.59. Fees in Cork, Wicklow, Dublin and commuter counties are all near the top of the list.

Parents in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown are paying 31 per cent above the national average. In Co Longford, the fees are 18 per cent below the average. Yet even within a county fees can vary widely, with costs of full-time care in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown ranging from €150 to €308 a week.

Fees generally for centre-based childcare have risen for the second year in succession, with the average price of full-time day-care up by 2.2 per cent, or almost €4 a week, according to the survey.

The study shows significant variation in the degree to which the new universal payment of up to €20 a week for children aged up to three has been offset by higher fees.

The county-by-county breakdown shows that in Cork city and Co Donegal, full-time fees have increased by up €15 a week. However, in some counties the average fee has dropped, with Co Kildare showing the biggest weekly decrease of almost €7.

Nationally, the average fee for a full-time childcare place has risen €4 to €178 a week.

Childcare places

The number of children attending early years services has jumped by 9 per cent over 12 months, to an estimated 202,600. However, the 6 per cent growth in capacity lags behind the surge in demand, with the number of vacant childcare places falling by 31 per cent.

The sector report, which is prepared by Pobal for the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA), notes that the second consecutive year of a noticeable fee increase comes after several years of stagnation. Drawing on data from 3,928 childcare services around the country, the report will be launched by Minister for Children Katherine Zappone, on Thursday morning.

Nine out of 10 children attending early years services now benefit from one of three DCYA funding programmes, a 24 per cent increase on the previous year.

The report finds that the level of affluence or deprivation in an area is the biggest factor affecting what centres charge. The average weekly fee for full-day care ranges from €232.50 in affluent areas to €167.30 in disadvantaged areas.

 

Once factors such as location are accounted for, the report finds no correlation between fees charged and wages paid to staff, in what is a low-pay, predominantly female sector.

The early years sector, which includes breakfast clubs and after-school services, employs 29,500 staff, which is 8 per cent up on the previous year. Almost 26,000 work directly with children and earn an average of €12.17 an hour, up 2 per cent on last year. For early years assistants, the average pay is €11.20 an hour (up from €10.88).

In a foreword to the report, Ms Zappone notes the ongoing issue of staff wages. “I am fully aware that retaining qualified staff remains a concern for many services,” she adds.

Staff turnover

The staff turnover rate is one in four over 12 months, although that is down slightly from 28.2 per cent. However, 57 per cent of services reported a difficulty in recruiting staff, 10 per cent more than in the previous year.

The majority of services, 65 per cent, have at least one child with a diagnosed disability, an increase of 8 per cent. Overall, 7 per cent of children enrolled are reported to have additional needs.

The number of Traveller children attending services has risen by 8 per cent to an estimated 3,080. And 13 per cent of all enrolments are of children for whom neither Irish nor English is their first language.