CHILDCARE costs in Ireland are among the most expensive in Europe.
A new European Commission study found that the average monthly cost of childcare here is around €771, just behind rates in the UK and Switzerland.
The report also found that Ireland is one of the few countries that does not have a limit on fees for early childcare.
The Association of Childhood Professionals (ACP) in Ireland has said the figures are not surprising due to the lack of government subsidy to reduce childcare costs.
“We’re consistently among the highest childcare costs in Europe,” said Marian Quinn, chairperson of the ACP.
“The costs of childcare in Ireland is not actually that different to any other EU country but the fact that costs are poorly subsidised by the government means parents feel the pressure.”
She added that staff in many childcare centres are actually paid below the minimum wage.
“If their wages were increased to normal standards, as they should be, that might have an even more negative impact on parents because it would require cost increases without subsidies,” she explained.
“The only solution is for the government to step in and subsidise these services.
“There is a concern that with Brexit looming, government funding in the sector may be even harder to come by,” warned Ms Quinn.
“When you combine this with rising insurance and rent costs for childcare centres, parents may not see the prices come down any time soon.”
Cork County Council heard in recent weeks that parents in the region are questioning if they can afford to have more than one child due to “astronomical” childcare costs.
Cllr Gillian Coughlan (FF) claimed that parents in Cork are having to pay up to €900 a month on childcare.
“We know that there are parents paying this amount or more in different parts of the country,” said Ms Quinn.
“It’s very prohibiting for parents as they will tell you themselves.
“Some are forced to give up work to care for their children because they cannot afford the costs, particularly if they’ve got more than one child,” she added.
“For others, they’re barely able to cover the cost even though they’re working,” she added.