Drop in crèche places for babies and toddlers
A survey of childcare providers has found that the number of places for babies and toddlers is falling, despite increasing demand.
The survey of 128 providers was carried out by Seas Suas, a representative organisation for independent childcare and early education providers, last month.
It found that a shortage of staff is driving the reduction in services for the under-twos.
Forty-four per cent of respondents said they had vacancies, while almost a third said it can take up to four months to fill a vacancy.
Over two-thirds of respondents said staff shortages had led them to either decrease or decide not to expand their service.
Seas Suas said while all children over three years of age are supported by the State through the ECCE scheme, babies and toddlers are not, even though this age group requires the greatest level of care.
"Younger children require higher staff ratios, with babies requiring staffing ratios of one adult for every three babies," it said. "With the availability of staff now a huge problem for the sector, providers are struggling to keep 'baby rooms' open."
"A variation in the sleep and rest requirements for this age group, which requires facilities to convert care rooms to cot rooms, has meant providers are facing capacity issues in the care of this age group.
"This is leading many providers to focus on providing places for older children."