More than 260 childcare firms set to close in 2023, providers say

Federation of Early Childhood Providers says Government ‘core funding’ is not enough

Some 264 childcare providers plan to close in 2023 because the Government’s “core funding” subsidy is not enough to keep going in the face of inflation.

That is according to the Federation of Early Childhood Providers (FECP) which surveyed more than 1,000 of its members in response to announcement of core funding from Minister for Children Roderick O’Gorman.

The survey found 5.66 per cent of providers said their service will not remain open next year, based on available funding. This rises to 7.5 per cent of providers of early childhood care and education.

FECP said its figure of 264 providers getting ready to close was arrived at by extrapolating from its survey findings, to cover about 4,668 childcare providers in Ireland.

The organisation said the Government’s “free year” of crèche cover would be jeopardised by the closures.

Funding from Government, which covers support for part and full time day care as well as after school support amounts to €221 million which nursery providers say is just not enough to keep smaller operators open, given rising costs in energy, insurance, food and wages this year.

The survey results come as recent research conducted among almost 3,000 adults by askpaul.ie found 83 per cent of of those surveyed said they are worried about their financial future, while 43 per cent said they were considering cutting socialising costs as a way to save money.

It also follows informed speculation that the European Central Bank will raise interest rates in July, adding to the bills of many parents who also have mortgages.

Low pay

Federation Federation of Early Childhood Providers chairwoman Elaine Dunne told The Irish Times that a service she runs for parents offering four hours of childcare a day, for 22 children, would receive €59.08 a week in total core funding support.

She said other services she runs for full day care and after school care were in a better position, but the key issue was that inflation had eaten so far into the support that it was no longer enough.

Ms Dunne said the survey carried out last week among 1,063 members of the federation, a majority of just under 60 per cent report being either unhappy, or very unhappy, with Core Funding.

The survey also found 77 per cent of services reported that the proposed deal will not allow them to give staff a raise next year, despite the fact that staff shortages are an issue, due to low pay.

More than half of providers say they expect costs to rise more than 15 per cent next year, with just under a third expecting them to increase by over 20 per cent.

Founded in 2019, the FECP represents 1,456 independent early childhood care services across Ireland, accounting for 20,000 carers jobs and supporting around 90,000 children and families.