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'Creche fees were like a second mortgage'

Before Rian started school, she paid €360 a week to have both her children in full-time care.

Last September she cut that bill to just €125 a week by using the creche for just two days a week and going part-time at her job as an office manager for an advertising company.

"I worked out that I wouldn't be worse off," she says. "My husband is able to take a day off a week and look after them and I work three days.

"The big advantage for me is that I get more time with them," she says. "The kids love going to the creche," she adds. "I certainly wouldn't have it any other way."

Sandra Delaney who owns and manages the creche, Bunny Hops, on the Malahide Road, is very aware of the impact of the recession on parents' lives. In one week recently, three parents were made redundant and had to withdraw their children.

"It's awful when that happens," she says. Having started the business at the peak of the boom in 2006, she is surviving, however. "We have a very good reputation and a waiting list," she says.

Fees haven't risen despite the fact that her bills -- electricity and gas bills in particular -- have. Salaries account for about 70% of her costs and these have been frozen.

Irish Independent