Lack of Cork creche places: Childcare costs are crippling families

Since 2017, 73 childcare services have ceased business in Cork city and county.
Lack of Cork creche places: Childcare costs are crippling families

CONCERNS have been raised about the availability of childcare places across Cork, with a local TD highlighting that many facilities have closed in Cork in recent years. File image of childcare: Picture: PA

CONCERNS have been raised about the availability of childcare places across Cork, with a local TD highlighting that many facilities have closed in Cork in recent years.

“Over the last number of weeks, I have been contacted by parents who have shared with me their experiences trying to find places for their children in childcare facilities across Cork,” Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said. “From what they described, finding a creche place was like finding a needle in a haystack.

“After hearing these stories, I contacted Tusla to get further information on the extent of this issue across the city. The figures I received from them were shocking. Since 2017, 73 childcare services have ceased business in Cork city and county.

“The Government have made many promises to tackle the availability of affordable childcare across this state, yet when you look at the figures, availability of childcare in Cork is getting worse, not better.

“Information from Tusla showed a steady decline in childcare places in the city each year, with 384 less childcare places currently available in the city than there were in 2017, despite the increasing demand in that time.” He raised concerns about the financial stress this was causing for families, and the knock-on impact on the careers of parents, particularly mothers.

“A lack of affordable childcare places is pushing parents, and predominantly women, out of their careers,” he said. “When families can find a childcare place, the fees are akin to a 2nd mortgage, averaging €800 per child per month but often more than that, with many families paying well over €1,000. It is causing untold stress and worry for families across the city, and it is not good enough.”

In response to a parliamentary question from Mr Ó Laoghaire, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O’Gorman said the “availability of high-quality early learning and childcare that is affordable and accessible is a key Government priority”.

“Since 2015, significant increases in State investment... has given rise to substantial growth in the numbers of children participating in these services,” he said. “More than 100,000 children now participate in the universal pre-school programme...”

The National Childcare Scheme subsidises up to 80,000 children.

“To ensure that the supply of early learning and childcare places meets demand, my department has, since 2015, funded the creation of more than 27,000 new places through an annual capital programme.”

Mr Ó Laoghaire will hold an online meeting on May 31 with Sinn Féin spokesperson on children Kathleen Funchion, which will hear parents experiences accessing childcare in the city.

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