Staff shortages pushing up wages and fees, creche group says

‘Exodus’ of professional childcarers to ‘more lucrative’ careers at all-time high

There are approximately 4,600 childcare providers in the State, most of which are small, standalone operations providing care for 11-22 children.

There are approximately 4,600 childcare providers in the State, most of which are small, standalone operations providing care for 11-22 children.

 

Creches are having to pay higher wages to staff because of shortages, which is creating pressure for higher charges to parents, the group representing the sector has said.

The Government’s recent decision to reduce the top rate in the Covid-19 wage subsidy scheme, while also requiring operators to keep children in pods has added to costs.

Prior to the pandemic, rates of pay were increasing by approximately 3 per cent a year, but this still fell short of what was needed to attract qualified staff.

“We fully support the improvement in terms and conditions [of staff], but somebody has to pay for it at the end of the day,” Darragh Whelan, director of Childhood Services Ireland, said.

There are approximately 4,600 childcare providers in the State, most of which are small, standalone operations providing care for 11-22 children.

‘Hit hardest’

“They are the ones that are hit hardest. They are dying to get staff in, but they can’t afford to pay them, so they are forced to increase their fees.”

The level of fees being charged to parents was “wholly undesirable”, he said.

Insurance, regulatory and administration obligations are also adding to costs, Mr Whelan said.

However, fees hikes are not occurring across the board, he said, adding that many creche owners have held off making decisions until they saw the Government’s package of measures.

One Dublin creche, run by the Safari group, in Clancy Quay, Dublin 8, is to raise fees by almost 25 per cent in January, according to parents who spoke to The Irish Times.

€1,000 per month

In a recent email, the company said that “introductory” fees that were charged in the new creche up to now would be increasing from January. One mother said this would see her costs rise from €800 per month to approximately €1,000 per month.

Efforts to secure a comment from Safari met with no response. In an email sent to parents earlier this year, the group said staff and insurance costs, and other factors, were behind the planned increase, the first the group said it had introduced in three years.

In the email, the group said a “crippling exodus of highly skilled childcare professionals from the industry to more lucrative, less-regulated and administratively burdened careers is at an all-time high”.

The latest filed accounts for Safari Childcare Ltd show the group made an after-tax profit in the 16 months to March 21st of this year of €313, 307. The two directors, Cian Powell and Kevin McGuinness, were paid a total of €215,139.