After-school care costing up to €10k a year
Parents are paying up to €10,000 a year for after-school care for just one child.
A survey by the Irish Independent has shown the huge cost burden childcare places on families - even after children have started school.
Prices vary widely across the country and there are few specialist after-school facilities, although many crèches operate an after-school service and some primary schools have set up after-school facilities.
Just last week, the OECD singled out high childcare costs as a major barrier to parents taking up work.
But while attention often focuses on the costs of minding pre-school children, our survey shows that childcare still remains a major financial drain even after a child starts school.
The highest price for after-school care we found in a survey of 10 providers was at Park Academy's Thornwood centre in Booterstown, Co Dublin, a specialised after-school centre that charges €835 per month for a five-day service, adding up to €10,020 a year.
A spokeswoman for Park Academy said many locations outside south Dublin would have significantly lower costs.
Its after-school service included full-day care during school holidays, pick-up from school, restaurant-quality meals, supervised homework and many extras including concerts, a special sports programme and regular trips, with highly qualified staff with extra skills outside of childcare.
"It must be acknowledged that attracting a team such as this is again a cost factor," she said, while a special offer was also currently available to newcomers offering five days' care for the price of four at €735.
Giraffe, in Lucan, Co Dublin, charges €595 for an after-school service, including collection and a hot meal, or €645 to also include early morning drop-off and delivery to school, and this service is fully booked out.
In Douglas in Cork, Nurture charges €615 per month for collection at 1.30pm, or €580 per month from 2.30pm, with the service also including a hot dinner.
After-school care provided at schools tends to be cheaper as this removes the need to collect and deliver children.
The lowest-priced service in our survey was at Realt na Mara National School in Dundalk, where the cost was €50 to €60 a week. A spokesman said some children from other schools also attended but they had to be dropped there after school, usually by a parent on their lunchbreak. The service includes supervised homework, activities and a hot snack, such as beans on toast.
Some centres also provide wraparound care to cater for parents starting work early who also need their children to be brought to school. Happy Days centre in Sligo provides a breakfast and a school drop-off service, as well as after-school care for €105 per week. Kiddy Academy in Navan offers a similar service for €110 per week.