Irish creche bills are the highest in Europe at over €750 per month
CRECHE fees in Ireland, now costing over €750 per child per month, have been confirmed as among the highest in Europe.
And Ireland is one of only two European countries where childcare workers are not required to have minimum qualifications.
Average childcare costs for under one-year-olds now stand at €756 per month – and for older children, the figure is €727.
The findings are likely to increase pressure on the Government – in light of various controversies that have dogged the industry – to implement greater controls and ensure staff are properly qualified.
They also provide further evidence that meeting the monthly creche bill is putting a huge dent in the after-tax income of young couples. The latest Eurostat findings show that average monthly fees for early childhood care and education are most expensive in Ireland, the UK, Luxembourg and Switzerland.
Ciairin de Buis, director of the Start Strong project, said the need for increased public investment in childcare in Ireland, had never been greater.
"It's not sustainable for parents to keep funding the amounts they're paying," she said. "Childcare services here are very mixed as regards quality and we need proper public investment to improve things on this level."
The Department of Children said new qualification requirements for the pre-school childcare sector would be brought in this year.
The report shows that in stark contrast to the situation in Ireland, facilities in the Nordic countries are described as affordable and available.
Costs are also low in eastern Europe, although demand sharply outweighs the number of places.
The report also found that in almost all countries with a regulated home-based childcare system, the maximum number of children per minder is subject to controls.
The majority of countries set the maximum at either five or six children per adult – however, regulations in this area are often complex.
The findings show that one in 10 households with children aged under six in Europe is classified as jobless, with Ireland, the UK, and Bulgaria among those above the EU average.
Ireland is mentioned as a country where there is a lack of clarity with regard to children, and how they avail of "indoor" and "outdoor" activities, while in the childcare system.