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Crippling cost of childcare revealed as Ireland among most expensive countries in world, Unicef report shows


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IRELAND is among the most expensive countries for childcare in the world as families are spending half a salary on childminding, a report by Unicef has found. 

The survey, conducted by the charity, entitled Where Do Rich Countries Stand on Childcare?, found that families of average income in Ireland are spending up to one-half of a two-earning household salary to put two children in childcare.

It notes that along with New Zealand and Switzerland, Ireland has the least affordable childcare globally in rich countries for the middle class.

Researchers found that a couple with an average income would have to spend between a third and a half of one salary to pay for two children in childcare.

Among high-income countries, Luxembourg, Iceland, Sweden, Norway and Germany rank the highest on childcare provisions.

"The best performers manage to combine affordability with quality of organised childcare,” the report says.

"They also offer generous leave to both mothers and fathers, giving parents choice on how to take care of their children.”

Slovakia, the United States and Cyprus rank the lowest for childcare provisions. The study notes that the US is the only rich country without nationwide, statutory, paid maternity leave, paternity leave or parental leave.

Unicef executive director Henrietta Forde said the countries that ranked the highest were those that combined affordability of childcare along with the quality of organised care.

This is then combined with the length of maternity and paternity leave in a given country.

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“To give children the best start in life, we need to help parents build the nurturing and loving environment that is so critical to children’s learning, emotional well-being and social development,” she said.

“Government investment in family-friendly policies, including childcare, ensures parents have the necessary time, resources and services they need to support their children at every stage of their development.”

The Unicef report also noted that because many parents are working from home due to Covid-19, they are struggling to balance work and childcare responsibilities.

It concluded that low-ranking countries should invest more in the childcare workforce, and look at their qualifications and working conditions to encourage the highest possible standards.

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