Crèches increase fees ahead of new Government subsidy

Katherine Zappone says her department is monitoring rising childcare prices

One crèche in Dublin West, Magic Years, has signalled to parents that it intends to increase fees by 8 per cent in October Photograph:  Edmond Terakopian/PA Wire

One crèche in Dublin West, Magic Years, has signalled to parents that it intends to increase fees by 8 per cent in October Photograph: Edmond Terakopian/PA Wire

 

Several crèches have increased fees ahead of the Government’s rollout of a new subsidy which was intended to lower the cost of childcare for parents.

Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes and Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger have received reports from parents that early childcare providers are increasing fees ahead of the subsidy’s introduction.

One crèche in Dublin West, Magic Years, has signalled to parents it intends to increase fees by 8 per cent in October. The Government’s universal subsidy of up to €1,040 per year for early childcare is due to be rolled out next week.

Mr Hayes said he had been “contacted by a number of constituents in Dublin who have already been told that their crèche fees will increase over the next few months”.

“These hikes have got to be regulated by the department, and fast,” Mr Hayes said.

Dublin West TD Ruth Coppinger said her constituency office “has been inundated with very angry parents who expected some meagre relief from the scheme, but instead are paying the same or more than previous years” due to rising fees.

‘Monitoring prices’

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone said her “department is closely monitoring prices, and will make recommendations . . . if action is required”.

John Hale, director of the Magic Years crèche in Carpenterstown, Dublin 15 said the 8 per cent increase in fees communicated to parents in a written notice “wasn’t formalised”.

He said a meeting with parents would be taking place before any increase was confirmed. The written notice in the crèche outlined: “There will be an 8 per cent increase in all fees effective October 2017.”

Mr Hale said while the increase in fees was not directly related to the introduction of the new childcare subsidy, the scheme had put a “substantial additional administrative burden on operators”.

‘More administration’

“It means more paperwork, more administration. There were many concerns regarding the capacity to process the new scheme ahead of its introduction,” he said.

Parents register for the scheme through their childcare provider, and the subsidy is paid directly to each provider, with the intention that savings would be passed on.

Ms Zappone said the Department of Children has set aside €18 million in funding, part of which is going towards supporting childcare providers in managing additional administration work.

“Changing one of the most expensive childcare systems in the world into the best was never going to be easy,” Ms Zappone said. “It was never going to be achieved in one budget . . . I have been clear from the outset we are correcting years of under-investment and much more is needed.”