The Early Years sector is experiencing a staffing crisis with turnover rates as high as 29% in Cork city and 25% in Cork county.
Findings from an annual survey of childcare providers across Ireland show that, while the national turnover rate decreased to 24%, the turnover rate across Cork city actually increased to 29%.
Meanwhile, there was just an 11% increase in childcare staff in the city, along with 20% in the county, which has a turnover rate of 25%.
“We’re in the middle of a staffing crisis, one that is being noticed by children and parents,” said Marian Quinn, chairperson of the Association of Childcare Professionals (ACP).
“Cork city has gone up six percent in terms of staff turnover.
“It is having an impact on children because continuity is key for them,” she added.
“One of the most important things in the Early Years setting is the relationship between staff and the children.
“If staff are continuously leaving, this relationship needs to be renewed over and over again.
“That’s not good for children, they need to be able to form an attachment and feel secure.” The level of turnover is evident on the ground, according to Ms Quinn.
“I’ve been talking to parents since the report came out who’ve noticed this level of turnover,” she said.
“They’re saying the staff are lovely but they notice the high level of change.
“It’s unsettling for parents,” she added.
The reduction in staff has led to a reduction in capacity, explained Ms Quinn.
There were 510 children on waiting lists in the city last year, with just 295 spaces available.
“There is certainly a problem in urban areas,” said Ms Quinn.
“Children are on waiting lists and we know now that it’s back to the case again that parents are booking children in as soon as they’re pregnant.
“If parents wait until their child is one, they’ll really struggle to get a place,” she added.
“It’s about choice as well, parents don’t send their children just anywhere, they have to go to a place they feel comfortable and their children feel comfortable.
“We know that in Cork, the plan for Ireland 2040 is to double the size of the city.
“If you’re having that level of staff turnover in childcare, it’s a big problem because you won’t be able to develop the services that are needed to attract people to work in Cork.
“It’s certainly a big issue looking to the future.”