Budget voices: 'I often have to forgo my own wages just to pay the bills'
Crèche owner: Louise Kilbane
Announced plans for childcare subsidies are to be welcomed, but don't go far enough, a crèche owner in Sligo says.
Louise Kilbane, who runs Lollipop Lane Montessori and after-school, says the measures announced will make a difference but more support for providers is needed.
"I welcome the investment. It's good to see that," she told the Irish Independent.
"But it's not going to help the service directly."
Louise has been managing the private crèche since 2006, and the centre looks after around 90 children on a weekly basis.
She says rising costs have been very difficult to deal with.
"My wages cost 70pc of my outgoings, and the other 30pc goes on lighting, heat, food, cleaning and other utility bills," she said.
Louise said she sometimes she has to forgo her own wages in order to make ends meet.
"We have people with level-eight degrees working in the sector, who are earning less than the minimum living wage," she said.
She also says retaining staff is also an ongoing challenge.
"I really need to hire someone else, but I can't get the qualified staff to work if the wages I offer are so low," she said.
Louise is also disappointed that the new childcare plan did not mention support for crèches paying commercial rates.
Some community crèches and childcare providers in certain counties do not need to pay such rates, she said.
Louise said she recognised that many parents resent the high prices of childcare.
"I know we hear time and time again that the childcare costs here are the highest in Europe," she said." But investing in the early years is going to be our future.
"These children are the doctors, teachers, politicians and taoisigh of the next generation, but they need to be given that support in order to get that first start."
"Childcare professionals don't deserve only the living wage for what they do.
"Just like any other worker with good qualifications, they deserve more."