Childcare crisis: Workers leaving sector 'in droves' as Cork families pay 'obscene' rates for care

A TD said families in Cork City and county are paying on average €800 per month per child, which he described as “crazy money”
Childcare crisis: Workers leaving sector 'in droves' as Cork families pay 'obscene' rates for care

Siptu strategic organiser Eva Mitchell said many of the union’s members have had to leave the sector due to the low salaries.

A CORK-BASED union representative has warned that employees are leaving the childcare sector in huge numbers due to low pay, while families pay “obscene” rates for their children to be looked after.

Siptu strategic organiser Eva Mitchell said many of the union’s members have had to leave the sector due to the low salaries.

“A lot of our members had to leave the sector as their wages are too low... They couldn’t afford to work and have their kids in care and education, so that is a huge issue. People are leaving the sector in their droves,” she said.

Sinn Féin TD for Cork South-Central Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said families in Cork City and county are paying on average €800 per month per child, which he described as “crazy money”.

“The system isn’t working for parents, for staff, nor for providers. Fees are far too high, and wages are far too low. The rising childcare costs are like a second mortgage for families.”

PUBLICLY FUNDED MODEL CALL FOR

Ms Mitchell said Ireland needs to move towards a more “publicly funded” model.

“I know the burden of costs on families is extortionate and that is down to successive government’s underfunding the sector. We need to move towards a more publicly funded model and continue to improve pay and conditions for workers.

“We need to reduce costs significantly for parents. The current rates are obscene. We have got one of the highest childcare rates across Europe for parents. It is terrible because the most formative years of a child’s life needs to be resourced,” she added.

The Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman recently announced a €221 million Core Funding Programme (CFP) which aims to reduce childcare costs, while improving pay and conditions in the childcare sector.

Ms Mitchell said money has been ringfenced in this programme to improve pay and conditions. 

“€138 million has been ringfenced to improve pay and conditions. This is a significant increase on funding for pay and conditions on previous years. A prerequisite of that funding is that services are not allowed to increase their fees. Its intended aim is to keep costs low for parents but also to improve pay and conditions.”

'CRAZY MONEY'

Mr Ó Laoghaire said the costs for childcare are unsustainable.

“In Cork, families are paying on average €800 per month per child, and it could be well up on a thousand for more than one child. That is crazy money. It is pushing parents, predominantly women, out of their careers, and many other women who continue working are earning just enough to cover childcare costs with little left over,” he added.

Deputy Ó Laoghaire said many childcare facilities in Cork are being forced to close due to staff shortages.

“For families, trying to find a place in a creche in Cork is like finding a needle in a haystack. Many childcare facilities are being forced to close due to staff shortages. Childcare workers are often on little more than minimum wage, and burnout is at an all-time high.”

He has called on the Government to act on unsustainable and unaffordable childcare costs.

“The reality is that the funding stream announced won’t make any real impact on reducing sky-high childcare fees; it will simply freeze them at unsustainable and unaffordable levels.

“The Government’s plans for childcare are completely out of sync with the reality of what is affordable for families in Cork.”

More in this section

Sponsored Content

EL_music

Podcast: 1000 Cork songs 
Singer/songwriter Jimmy Crowley talks to John Dolan

Listen Here

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more